I’ve loved Gecko’s work since watching the Overcoat in Edinburgh five or six years ago. The current production of Institute at HOME has a similar feel. This is a show formed from subtle movements, minimal dialogue, and with themes of both isolation and inclusion. There is a strong feeling of powerlessness, of oppression, of not being in control of one’s destiny. At the same time the cast of four men find ways to be supportive. The physical theatre that Gecko create is powerful, beautiful and often unsettling.
The production centres around male emotional needs. The worry that in middle age all your best times are behind you, beautifully portrayed by a filing cabinet of memories. Fear of death, with a recurring image of a figure falling into a grave. The inability to accept the end of a relationship, with witty, well constructed and at times immensely physical restaurant scenes. Accepting norms at work and in social life; losing your job; the challenges of providing support. That feeling that you just aren’t in control of either your thoughts or your movements – and of course in this production that gives the company a lot of scope to create man-as-puppet.
The set is impressive, an oppressive array of filing cabinets into which personal memories are filed and retrieved. Scenes are formed from pull out sets, to form a restaurant, a workspace, a treatment room. It all reinforces the world that Gecko create, a world where you question the place of the man in that world.
‘Gecko shows are intended to act as a provocation to the audience, encouraging a personal response and asking each audience member to place him or herself within the show.’
Because there is little dialogue, and that which is spoken is a mix of English, French and German, the show does indeed create an emotional base, and then a space for us to slip into. Scenes are perfectly choreographed, but the message is loose, open to interpretation. That might not suit everyone. But if you’re prepared to go with it, this is an emotionally reflective and visually beautiful show that will stick with you for a very long time.
Until 22 October.