LONDON INTERNATIONAL MIME FESTIVAL
Institute is a new work commissioned by the London International Mime Festival and created by Gecko, a British based company who specialise in multilingual devised theatre, usually visual in form and epic in scale.
Four dancers inhabit a mysterious institution, within which they are forced to undergo a rigorous training regime: behavioral routines are practiced, irregular impulses suppressed and designs for living constructed. It is, in short, a depiction of the same fusion of futurist fantasies and disciplinarian strategies that authors like Kafka and Bulgakov associated with state bureaucracy in the early decades of the twentieth century. The programme notes, with reference to the ‘fractured and disconnected’ world that we at present inhabit, suggest the continuing urgency of these themes.
The production is, as always, inventive, immaculate and often visually stunning: elaborate sets are pulled out of large filing cabinets, and we catch brief glimpses of figures falling from great height. The performances, among them one by Gecko founder Amit Lahav, are impeccable.
One criticism is that in terms of content, and perhaps aesthetic, this production sometimes echoes previous productions – in particular The Overcoat. The final ten minutes, which feel Bacchanalian, ritualistic and strange – are in this respect a welcome new direction.