Oct 25 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✭   All-consuming

Edinburgh Festival Theatre: Fri 24- Sat 25 Oct 2014

Who is it that ascribes meaning? Is it the director, the artists or the watcher? With Gecko Theatre’s latest creation, it’s sixth in a decade, it is all of these.

INSTITUTE is mesmerising as it delivers a fascinating blend of the mental, physical and meta-physical that allows the audience to ascribe their own individual meaning to the piece.

Gecko -INSTITUTE. Photo: Richard Haughton

A scene from INSTITUTE. Photo: Richard Haughton

INSTITUTE is centred around the notion of care. What is modern day care? Who knows what care is best and what is needed? What is resilience and support? And, in a time where people are becoming more fractured and disconnected from each other, are they ultimately alone?

The company set about to explore these notions. They spent over a year in preparation: working with artists, support workers, patients and carers on their notions of care and support, in an increasingly lonely and politicised world.

Performers Amit Lahav, Chris Evans, Francois Testory and Ryan Perkins-Ganges have embodied what they discovered in a series of interactions combining movement, dance, physical theatre and a scattering of humour. The result is an hour and a half of compellingly inventive and intensive theatre.

Set in an institution – or perhaps within an individual psyche – the production is ingenious and innovative. Great filing cabinets line the room containing the compartmentalised hopes, dreams and insecurities of the four central characters. This transforms as and when needed into daily aspects of life, exploring work, relationships and other distractions. But what is important and what is just background?

everything is faultlessly delivered

The cast deliver a multiplicity of emotions and scenarios. At times they portray delicate interplays of uncertainty and frustration, at others a tense claustrophobia. At other times, there is a frenzied action and turmoil that builds and builds to a precipice of emotion. The movements vary between stunted frustration, graceful elegance and confusion, but everything is faultlessly delivered with energy and control.

Gecko -INSTITUTE. Photo: Richard Haughton

A scene from Gecko’s INSTITUTE. Photo: Richard Haughton

The synchronisation in the ensemble pieces too are captivating: each actor so in time and so aware of each other that it leaves the impression that they are in fact all aspects of one psyche, one person.

Amit Lahav as creator, performer, designer and director creates a connection with the audience that weaves and builds them into these emotions. Each element, from lighting, sound and language to placement on the stage adds to this raw and interweaving effect. In particular, the disparate illumination of separate compartments intensify the notions of loneliness, isolation and inner turmoil. It’s absorbing, harrowing and draining,

INSTITUTE ultimately leaves more questions than answers, and therein lies its beauty. It challenges the mind to absorb, process and make sense of what it has seen and apply its own meaning. There are moments of clarity when it all makes perfect sense, but this is constantly challenged and redefined through shifting perspectives. It is compelling, captivating and ultimately forces the brain out of its comfort zone to try and understand the multiple layers of complexity that is a human life and a human mind.

In an absorbing and magnetising production that confuses as much as it challenges, INSTITUTE is not a show that you’re ever likely to forget.

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Friday 24/Saturday 25 October 2014
Evenings 7.30 pm
Further details and tickets from:

INSTITUTE on tour:
24-25 October 2014 Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
5 – 8 November 2014 Bristol
Old Vic
0117 987 7877 Book online
17 – 20 January 2015 London International Mime Festival
Linbury Studio
Royal Opera House Book online
23 – 24 January 2015 Poole
0844 406 8666 Book online
30 – 31 January 2015 Truro
Hall For Cornwall
01872 262466 Book online


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