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Golem: trippy, tantalising, twisted

Adelaide Festival

Fantastical multi-media show Golem has been described by UK reviewers as “Kafka meets Little Shop of Horrors” and “a Frankenstein for the 21 century”.

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Created by London performance company 1927 and set to have its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Festival in March, the show blends dark humour, music and claymation. It is a dystopian tale centred on binary coder Robert, whose life changes when he acquires the Golem, a creation inspired by Jewish folklore.

Here, writer/director Suzanne Andrade – who says the creative team is all “a bit wonky” – tells InDaily what audiences can expect from Golem, and how it questions the dynamic between humans and technology .

First up, let’s talk about the Golem – who exactly is he?

A man made of clay, who will obey your every command! (Or will he?)

What kind of havoc does he wreak on the life of binary coder Robert?

Well at first, no havoc at all; in fact, life improves for Robert. But gradually Golem starts to manipulate Robert more and more.

We start to wonder who is in charge. We see Robert change – at first, just his shoes, then his girlfriend, then his opinions. The Robert at the end of the show is very different to the Robert you meet at the beginning.

What is the production attempting to say about the relationship between humans and machines?

That technology is essentially neutral, but it’s the forces who control our technologies, who access our technologies and therefore us, that we need to be wary of. We want to question our almost entirely uncritical embrace of new technologies.

Golem combines music, animation, claymation, live performance and theatre – how does it all work together on stage?

Lots of rehearsals, a huge collaborative devising process and a lot of trust in one another, both on stage and off, are key to the success of the show. It works because each element has grown together and relies on each other – the music, film, acting and story all grow together, so one element doesn’t work without the others.

Our technician is holding it all together by hitting animation cues at the right time, our musicians are listening, watching and giving the performers clues, and the actors are responding to the films and music as well as each other and the audience … it can’t be done with a hangover!

What are some of the different artistic influences on which you drew when creating the show?

The original Golem, in books and films. Also, we read widely about AI (artificial intelligence) and cloning.

In images and video clips, the show looks bold, beautiful, trippy, tantalising, twisted – and a little bit frightening. Is that what you and designer Paul Barritt were aiming for?

Yes! Trippy, tantalising and twisted are all huge compliments.

We’re all a bit wonky and I think this comes out in the show. It should never be too clean, too seductive, too pretty and certainly not too new…

Golem will be presented at the Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, from March 8-13 as part of the 2016 Adelaide Festival.

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