Photos – Bernhard Mueller
Annie (Esme Appleton) and Robert Robertson (Shamira Turner) live with their Grandmother (Rose Robinson) and make revolutionary punk guaranteed to ruin your Christmas. One day Robert buys a creature made from clay called a Golem (voiced by Ben Whitehead). Pronounced Go-lem, he has nothing to do with the Lord of The Rings character. In fact, a quick browse on google, reveals that golems in various forms have been around in Jewish Folklore for over a millennium. Robert’s new friend will obey his every command. The question is, who controls who?
Golem is the brainchild of writer/director Suzanne Andrade and her London based Theatre Company 1927 which make works that combine live action with animation and film. They first came to our shores in 2010, when The Animals and Children Took to The Streets was performed at the Sydney Opera House. On this occasion, the visuals were stunning but the narrative was a little episodic. Many scenes felt like they were just included to make use of the visuals.
This is definitely not the case with Golem. The story is reminiscent of classic fairy tales such as The Emperor’s New Clothes in its simple yet profound message. Golem could be your smartphone or tablet, appearing to make life easier, all the while sprouting sales pitches in rhyming couplets. Soon you are just another plaything of consumerism.
The animation is of course the highlight. It is projected onto a giant screen which takes up most of the stage. This acts like a canvas for the performers to walk alongside and pop in and out of. The show’s style is utterly intriguing. The grainy animation and broad Vaudevillian performance evoke the 1920’s and 30’s. Indeed the 1927 theatre company was named because of an aesthetic fondness for the period. This is juxtaposed with 21st century’s pre-occupation with consumer culture to create an entirely new time and place
The over the top performances give the production a wonderful sense of fun. Rose Robinson as Joy, the monotone voiced Goth wearing a clown’s outfit is particularly notable. A drummer (Will Close) and keyboard player perform on opposite sides of the stage. They remain unobtrusive and therefore avoid the problems of live film scoring performances where you don’t know whether to watch the screen or the musicians.
Golem is a marvel of both animation and storytelling, being one of the shows of the year. If the last sentence read like blatant PR, maybe it’s because there’s a little bit of Golem in all of us.
Sydney Theatre Company presents
Created by 1927
Director Suzanne Andrade
Venue: Roslyn Packer Theatre | 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Dates: 16 – 26 March 2016
Tickets: from $50
Bookings: 02 9250 1777 | www.sydneytheatre.com.au