Institute is a performance I have hunted for some time. I have heard many a good thing about Gecko’s touring production, and finally could see it for myself.
Unlike a lot of work which is often pigeonholed into the category of ‘fringe’, Institute really demands to be seen. It is just over an hour of exploring how we care in our modern day, and why we need to.
The movement of the four performers was captivating and intriguing. The sense of repeated choreography never emerged, and there was a real sense of the performance living and breathing in front of us. The innate quality of these movements was daringly honest, never animalistic but always desperate.
Chris Swain and Amit Lahav’s lighting design created a series of shadows, silhouettes and interrogating effects which made us feel the pressures of the performers in reaching the seemingly unassailable targets that they faced in their modern lives. Alongside, the memories of one was played back as a reminder of how, in his past, he was a success, and now always the failure that he is now.
The overriding question which emerged was why do we, as humans, allow ourselves to be put into such situations? Why do we allow ourselves to be made to feel overwhelmingly insecure about the most mundane of tasks? Gecko cannot answer that question within the slightly overlong hour and ten minutes, but it would be wrong to demand that they do.
What they do instead is create a punishing evaluation of modern existence, especially for working men, that hits their audience like the most amazing ton of bricks could.