For this review I am stepping a little out of my comfort zone. Although I know a fair bit about dance and have a smidge of knowledge about drama, when I am met with the two combined I am totally clueless. Institute by Gecko is a contemporary dance drama piece heavily recommended by my drama teacher. So I plodded off to Bristol Old Vic one Saturday afternoon with a pessimistic cloud over my head and a negative review already forming in my mind.
What I was met with was a shock to say the least. Even as I was sat in the auditorium immersed by empty seats my gaze was fixed onto the intricate set, the office looking yet asylum feeling set. This was cleverly used as the play went on to become more and more multifunctional yet still being able to be unnoticeably stored away.
As the four man cast began the play and fell into the first sequence of dance moves, I sighed heavily and sank back in my seat ready to endure a few hours of “I’m an angry tree” acting. As the play progressed and I managed to gain some vague idea of what was going on, I realised that the actors, could dance! Which is incredibly rare for this type of piece. They had obviously been classically trained, which made the play a whole lot more bearable for me.
Each individual in the audience will have a different interpretation of the play. It was so ambiguous you couldn’t possibly find two people who have the same idea of what everything meant. I feel this was almost part of its intentions. It was symbolic at points, for example sticks were used to force a character into an uncomfortable situation as if he was a human puppet which could be seen as literally what it was or as a metaphor for loss of control and his internal conflict.
What I personally took away from the play was the literal story of several men in an institute all with their own problems, being helped by an elder gentlemen. I felt the message of the story was that you can get wrapped up in your own world and be naïve to others problems around you, sometimes you just need to look up and see what you can do for those that help you so much.
This gripping play had me emotionally and mentally drained but gripped from the word go. I would highly recommend Gecko’s work, but perhaps only if you are used to contemporary theatre!