Wednesday, 17 January 2007

The Golem of Ruckers Hill, Jan 17 2007

The Golem of Ruckers Hill
written by Michael Camilleri, Bernard Caleo & Daniel Schlusser  
By Platform Youth Theatre
Northcote Town Hall, Wed to Sat,  until Jan  21, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 17 2007

The titular character in The Golem of Ruckers Hill, by Platform Youth Theatre, is based on the Prague Ghetto myth of the Golem, a creature conjured from the clay imbued with death and blood of Jews.

The Northcote Golem is constructed from Merri Creek mud. The play is also inspired by Code Red, the severe risk of attack by terrorists.

The cast of young performers, puppeteers and singers is totally committed to this rather bizarre idea and to the perambulatory nature of the show. We are lead by a town crier to a car park, to the ramp outside the Northcote Town Hall, to the foyer and stairs, a meeting room, through the musty old town hall and into an anteroom for the finale.

There is perhaps too much perambulating for a large audience and the show could be more effective if  30 minutes shorter.

We discover, in a meeting of Northcote’s “spiritual leaders”, that the town faces an imminent terrorist threat. The leaders are asked to offer weapons to defend the community. The Mayor (Francesco Minniti) will not agree to a safe, non-life-threatening weapon called Black Lightning, as it will use all available power and leave the community without electricity or cars.

In order to preserve Northcote’s wealth and lifestyle, the leaders decide to create from the mud a violent, supernatural creature, a Golem. He is a superhero initially, then degenerates into a skyscraper sized thug who eats citizens for breakfast.

The intention and the metaphor are not quite clear. Have we constructed a commercial or a military monster to protect our lifestyle and let it run out of control? Perhaps having three writers caused the lack of clear through line.

The show has some clever puppetry. The Golem (Rennie Watson) is a monster on stilts, wearing mud-like rags. His titanic head swallows people, including the audience. Director, Michael Camilleri, controls the audience viewpoint so that we see Golem devouring the Mayor in an upstairs window and have an eerily interrupted view of the monster being created in a smoke-filled room.

Timothy Camilleri has presence as the Rabbi, Stefania Franja is a compelling narrator and Watson sustains the stilt-walking Golem effectively.

The Golem is a grab bag of styles and concepts but provides a vehicle for young performers to strut their stuff.

By Kate Herbert

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