Review for Institute by Gecko Theatre at Derby Theatre.
Institute is Gecko's sixth creation in ten years. The company creates each new show by building on their established working methodology of physical exploration through movement and dance and wonderfully inventive theatrical invention.
Using many different people as source material for Institution Gecko spent a year developing the work around the notion and practice of 'care' and Amit Lahav (creator) invited a group of inspirational artists, support workers, patients and carers to explore care in a fresh new way in order to create this masterpiece of modern dance theatre.
Exploring themes of emotional fracture and disconnection and human reliance the four male performers are electric in their dance work. The piece may start as a funny romantic dinner for a man and an imaginary woman but Institute soon shifts the amusement swiftly to one side as the man's mental landscape slowly starts to disintegrate. He is joined by a stressed work colleague in the foreboding nightmare office of towering old filing cabinets and ghostly architectural models. From the cabinets appear cleverly constructed set pieces and the drawers open up to release a haunting Pandora's box of light and sounds from the past. The whole piece takes invention further than one would imagine possible through exaggerated theatrical dance and particularly through the part featuring connecting rods attached to the dancers. There is humour scattered throughout and, conversely there are startlingly animal-like distorted grunts of despair and agony from a contorted patient in a white bed gown that alarm and unnerve. Gecko's already brilliant reputation for extraordinary theatre has sky rocketed into the heavens in this astounding new work.
Men morph into women; bodily progression turns to regression and twists back upon itself in a flailing of limbs; emotions are presented as desperately raw and in turn, surprisingly gentle. European languages feature throughout as part of a complex sound-scape.A restaurant set is cleverly shifted around the stage as part of the macabre and often terrifying movement. Institute is ninety minutes of total dance/theatre and utterly engaging and thrillingly performed by the amazing performers, Chris Evans, Amit Lahav, Ryen Perkins Gangnes and François Testory. The energy of the piece is astonishing and the guys still manage four curtain calls after the performance.
Full credit must also go to the brilliant technical collaborators, Rhys Jarman and Amit Lahav for the set design, Chris Swan and Amit Lahav for the atmospheric lighting design, Nathan Johnson for the Sound design and Dave Price for the original music.
Currently playing at Derby Theatre until 5th April.