Institute (Photo By Richard Haughton)

Institute (Photo By Richard Haughton)

REVIEW: Institute

 Liverpool Playhouse

by Peter Grant

Pressure. Stress. Depression.

Words that are heard too often these days.

Gecko, a well-respected international theatre company, address such issues in their work.

They make audiences think and think again with their dedication and incredible talents. This is a subject close to their heart which they articulate with sharp, in-focus dramatic dexterity.

On stage skills combine modern ballet choreography with mime and stunning physicality. It’s storytelling where the audience play their part in the experience, too. This touring version asks why -in such a demanding socially and professionally world – do we really care enough about each other?

There is no narrative but you quickly build up the picture. Set design , sound and music play a huge part in creating a grey world. Visually it is reminiscent of such films as 1984, Brazil and one of David Bowie’s futuristic videos. Here towering banks of filing cabinets hold secrets – red and white lights signal impending panic. The intricacies and precision of the set are breath-taking with contraptions such as a glass cell emerge from nowhere. Dry ice adds to the sinister and surreal scenarios.

We see the romance of Martin who longs for one more chance with his beloved Margaret in a series of painful restaurant scenes. Daniel scales ever-increasing heights – but will he fulfil his ambition? Their well being and mental health is on the line. They encounter deadlines, futile meetings, commuting . . . red tape, face-less bosses.

A cast of four in suits and bare feet work their socks off. Creator and director Amit Lahav says their aim is to explore complexities in human nature and our complete reliance on one anoyther. ”A world where everyone relies on someone to catch them.” he says in the excellent programme notes.

”A world where everyone relies on someone to catch them.”

Chris Evans, Ryen Perkins-Gangnes and Fracois Testory all display perfect comic timing when called for amid the manic running around. Sometimes you are under the illusion that there are more poeople on stage such is their versatility. Admirably, they support mental Health group MIND.

Institute is a truly thought-provoking production – quite a achievement in 75 minutes.

(4 / 5)

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