For the second time in two weeks, Home has brought something a little unusual from a company with a distinctive style to Manchester.
1927 came to prominence five years ago with its second production, The Animals and Children took to the Streets, which was a hit in Edinburgh, London, Sydney and around the world, including three runs at the National Theatre in London.
The company brings its clever fusion of projected images, live action and live and recorded music and voices to the story of the Golem, the clay man from Jewish folklore brought to life to serve its human master.
Central character Robert is portrayed in a lengthy set-up as dull and unpopular, working in a pointless job with a lot of other dull people. However he goes to the shop of someone he knew at school and buys from him a clay man that will do everything he commands. Of course this doesn't prove to be quite as perfect a situation as it first appears.
As a premise, this sounds quite familiar and nothing original, but it appears that 1927 is using the story as an attack on a society that relies too much on its gadgets, particularly on the desire for the latest model, and on consumerism as a whole. The Golem's help turns into advice and then into actively marketing products to its master.
As a satire, it is a bit thin and its targets are well-worn and easy to hit. In fact the script as a whole, despite some good ideas and a few good gags, meanders along and is easily diverted from the plot for something that probably seemed a great idea in rehearsals.
The synchronisation between projected animation, live actors and musicians and recorded audio is stunningly impressive, it has to be said. We've seen the sort of thing before—only last year, Imitating the Dog brought an identical style to its production with Oldham Coliseum of The Mist in the Mirror—but they do it extremely well.
But it isn't quite enough to sustain a 90-minute, interval-less show. An hour and its quirkiness and cleverness may not have outstayed its welcome, but any longer than that and it really needs a stronger script to keep it interesting. Take away the technical wizardry and you're left with a bunch of ideas that don't really cohere.
The five-strong cast give totally committed performances in a show that is worth seeing if you want to see the possibilities of projected scenery in a piece that is entertaining at times but ultimately unsatisfying.
Reviewer: David Chadderton