Institute, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Gecko Theatre Company
Amit Lahav (creator and director), Rhys Jarman and Amit Lahav (design), Chris Swain and Amit Lahav(lighting design), Dave Price (original music), Nathan Johnson (sound design), Rosalind Wynn (producer)

Chris Evans, Amit Lahav, Ryen Perkins-Gangnes, François Testory
Running time

Masculine mime with a mixed up message.

Filing cabinets of various sizes in dull grey and brown lit by subdued amber lights may seem an unlikely backdrop to hold an audience for one and a half hours, but Gecko did just that. Surrounding a slate grey stage this imaginative set is host to the four suited and barefooted highly physical performers that form theatre company, Gecko .

The utterly ingenious set where drawers open to reveal mini offices or cosy Italian restaurants and where files talk and sing their contents is astonishing in its own right. Couple this with the immaculate synchronisation and comic imagination of the Gecko cast along with Dave Price’s fabulous original music that melds with tracks from the likes of Cleo Laine and Ella Fitzgerald as well as some fine Latin sounds and you have Institute.

The show’s intention to be an "exploration of what it means to care" is somewhat lost within its own inventiveness and seems somewhat esoteric. It is Gecko’s immense skill in mime, movement and co-ordination that carries the show. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy this slightly disquieting concept that holds the irony of the invisibility of women, traditionally society’s carers. Femininity appears discreetly and disconcertingly as a disembodied hat; a pair of hands; a shapely shoed leg or a shambolic drag effort by one of the performers in a messy wig and orange coat.

It is the easy natural fraternity of the male of the species that dominates. Their display of corporate unity brings some light comedy to the piece at the start. But it is their joined tumbling play that makes them look like a male version of Matisse’s famous painting The Dance and the primeval moves expressing loss and anguish like a version of the Maori Haka dance that makes this unusual show soar to the heights it does. Add to this the luminous dream sequence that features ghost- like at points throughout along with the movement with extraordinary pole attachments and the result is just fantastic.

This show is a combination of the madcap, the comic and the confusing that is chock full of brilliant sound design. Most of all, meaning aside, its movement and creativity are a pleasure to behold.

Since its founding in 2001 and Gecko, has gained a reputation for their working methodology of physical exploration and theatrical invention. Institute is Gecko’s sixth creation and was co-commissioned by Derby Theatre, Warwick Arts Centre and New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich in association with DanceEast and Northern Stage.

24 & 25 October 7.30pm
Tour continues to Bristol Old Vic – 5 – 8 November
Linbury Studio, ROH – London International Mime Festival 17th - 20th January 2015
Lighthouse Poole 23rd & 24th January 2015
Hall for Cornwall 30th & 31st January 2015