Institute @ The Place Theatre Review

Gecko’s Artistic Director, Amit Lahav manages to spotlight a world perhaps perceived as being alien to us and makes it significant. I’m made to care about all of the individuals that occupy the stage, and that is no mean feat.

Institute by Gecko Company, credit Richard Haughton (6)

It’s as if from the moment the evening begins, the audience are let in on a secret, and it’s left upon our shoulders as to how we deal with it. Lahav and Chris Evans magnetise with their effortless sense of comic timing. A much needed remedy to a complex labyrinth of thought provoking commentaries on time, love, care, loneliness, companionship… the list is endless.

Lahav and Evans present a masterclass in how a partnership and an ensemble communicate, without having to say a word. Their ability to synchronise choreography meticulously spellbounds, with a mixture of sharp and staccato solo pieces effortlessly transforming into dynamic high octane sequences making for an exciting watch. Both of these protagonists down to Earth individuals trying to make sense of the world yet dealing with their own issues. Francois Testory amuses from the get go, a zany authoritative figure introduced to the audience by non stop speeches in French. This barrier is beautiful, I can pick up certain phrases however I love the fact that I have to work to figure out what it is that he is saying. Could this be a metaphor for navigating through life? As humans we seek validation, we seek to fit in… we are labelled by others…  diagnosed by others… but why?

Institute is steeped in visually stunning imagery. As I write this review I can still picture the snapshot of what appears to be an elderly man upstage on a platform continually appearing to fall backwards into a bed, but then quickly vanishes. This in my writing career I will never forget. The image is pure magic, yet haunting simultaneously. The theme of love haunts also haunts the evening. An enigmatic presence going by the name of Margaret offers a gateway into the show’s macrocosm. What does Margaret symbolise about the outside world? Unpredictability? Mortality? Inconsistency? All of those and more.

The evening itself is a metaphor. We institutionalise certain topics refusing to address and tackle them and this piece certainly enlightens the audience on this fact. I leave The Place in awe. The stage design is a marvel, Rhys Jarman and Lahav imagine a tower of filing cabinets that open to unveil memories, a stunning cocktail of the ordinary and the extraordinary. If you can, beg for… borrow… or steal a ticket… Institute is an experience not to be missed! 5/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Institute is currently showing at The Place until Saturday 12th March. For more information on the production, visit here…

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