A lavish dystopian fable of consumerism and tech dependence.
Drawing on Jewish folklore's golem myth, London theatre company 1927's 'Golem' is an ebullient goth-pop musical, as well as a fable on the dangers and perversities of 'smart' technology. In this telling, the Golem™ – a ‘shapeless mass' in Hebrew, or a 'body without a soul’ – is an assembly line-produced clay manservant designed to assist its master with life-management (everything from office work and domestic chores to shopping and dating). Claymation projections designed by animator Paul Barritt, the golems begin as mute and obedient bogey creatures, but grow sleeker and more obtrusive with every successive 'update'.
'Golem''s marvellous, animated set pieces (also by Barritt) paint a bleak, albeit vibrant, intensely hued picture of a dystopian British future in which citizens’ lives are run by tiny clay men, buzzing about like drones, jabbering incessantly about deals, promotions and next-day delivery. Written and directed by Suzanne Andrade, the play poses that old chestnut of a question, concerning increased dependence on technology: who is really serving whom (or what)?
'Golem' has garnered universal acclaim from the British press, and rightly so. The staging is weird, wondrous and technically dazzling; the actors (a cast of five) are virtuosic, with impeccable comic timing. Strangely animatronic, with awkward, stuttering gestures, they fully assimilate to Barritt’s inhuman burlesque. Some viewers may be put off (others enthralled) by the piece’s Burtonesque aesthetic: tightly controlled, with the oppressive, cartoonish atmosphere of a childhood nightmare. In any case, the play’s somewhat obvious themes are well served by it.