Theater

‘Golem,’ an Anti-Tech Allegory With a Lot of Wizardry

by

The heart of the chilly Golem beats with a single question: What price do we pay for our technology? The British troupe 1927 knows, though its message is muted by its own medium. In this projection-saturated fable, the troublesome tech isn’t an iPhone, it’s the title’s clay servant — a lumbering Claymation golem that leads its owner, Robert (Shamira Turner), into temptation. First, the automaton meant to save Robert time (it takes over at his awful data-entry job) conversely turns him into a promotion-obsessed striver; then its shopping feature (it helpfully plugs deals from its parent company) seduces him into constant spending. To anyone who’s used the internet, the allegory’s all too clear.

Creators 1927 specialize in a hybrid form of avant-retro video-theater: Live performers move among Paul Barritt’s animations, which recall both Dada collage and the herky-jerky movements of stop-motion; Lillian Henley’s music operates like silent-movie underscoring; and the actors paint their faces white, their costumes recalling early cinematic expressionism. If you’ve never seen the troupe’s work, you’ll find it a genuine wonder, a gorgeous amalgam of image and wit. Unfortunately, even such aesthetic sophistication can wear badly. We quickly notice the group’s delight in computer animation has hamstrung the show’s Luddite message. A muddy sound-mix renders some lines inaudible. And, worst of all, writer-director Suzanne Andrade doesn’t sustain her critique — even when your packages come via a mud monster, it’s hard to get horrified by next-day shipping.

Golem

Directed by Suzanne Andrade

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College

524 West 59th Street

212-721-6500, lincolncenterfestival.org

Through July 31

Check out more scenes from the production below:

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