Gecko have truly outdone themselves with this production. This mind-blowing piece of theatre wouldn’t be out of place at the Barbican or the National. Its in a league of its own at the fringe. The set (designed by a creative Rhys Jarman) is a towering façade of filing cabinets that open to reveal everything from hospital waiting rooms to a lifetime’s supply of personal memories. Like the filing cabinets, Institute is packed with hidden cavities that trigger emotional memories and tiny nooks that reveal moments of surprising comic delight.
And oh the physical sequences. I’ve never seen a company perform such unrelenting routines with such individual personality. It’s almost as if real people found that this is the best way to express themselves. With a leg remaining firmly grounded in reality, the other is left to pivot its way into hypnotic oblivion.
Like Blind Man’s Song (also at the Pleasance) the open-ended nature of the plot leaves the audience to make the story their own. Is it a mental asylum? An office? Is everyone sane or completely crazed? Who are the ‘bad guys’? It’s up to you to decide, resulting in a more personalized story for everyone involved.
Martin (Lahav) and Daniel (Evans) have a beautiful friendship. Ridden with anxiety and psychosis, the two share humour and tenderness with each other, creating a wonderfully engaging backbone to the piece. A highlight is when Martin gasps ‘I can’t breathe’, showcasing the most accurate depiction of anxiety I’ve ever seen on a stage. Lahav and Evans are in complete control of their bodies throughout. They also have wonderful comic timing, a combination that is extremely rare but wonderfully delightful when encountered in such talented individuals.
The play intelligently explores how our society cares for its sick. But it’s so much more than that. This is multilingual spectacle is full of twists and turns that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.