The latest production by Satellite Théâtre, ‘Golem’, a bilingual sci-fi performance piece produced in collaboration with Tutta Musica, has been touring New Brunswick the past few weeks. Combining live music, bilingual dialogue, and extensively choreographed dance sequences, ‘Golem’ is an avant-garde production with high ambitions and higher concept. With a mixture of steampunk and old-school sci-fi aesthetics and a heavily atmospheric set, the play is an incredibly immersive experience.
‘Golem’ tells the story of Dr. Loewe (Bianca Richard), an eccentric scientist trying to perfect her latest creation, Omega (Jalianne Li), a highly intelligent robot. Aided by her more simplistic robot assistant, Beta (Yves Arseneault), who spends as much time translating her dialogue into English as he does actually helping with lab work, Dr. Loewe finds her task grow more difficult with each attempt as Omega begins questioning her own nature and the world around her. Combining legitimately complex philosophical concepts, questions about the future of technological development, and sharp wit, dialogue frequently alters between serious contemplation and good-natured entertainment. Exploring concepts of free will, parenthood, technology, and evolution, ‘Golem’ grapples with heavy questions in what could be considered a modern re-interpretation of Frankenstein.
While billed as bilingual, ‘Golem’ does require at least a functional understanding of French to be fully appreciated. Through much of the play, considerable effort is made to provide coverage for both languages by Beta’s enthusiastic parroting of Dr. Loewe’s speech. In these sections, all an anglophone is likely to miss are a few linguistic jokes, and even many of these can be picked up through inference. However, the translation becomes less of a priority in the final scenes of the play as things begin rapidly unravelling, to the point that entire scenes are done only in French. This is not to say that anglophones won’t understand or enjoy the play, but without at least some grasp of the French language, they may be left feeling a little lost in certain sections.
An integral part of ‘Golem’s’ production is the contribution of Tutta Musica. With a live four-piece band composed of drums, a bassoon, a clarinet, and a violin, ‘Golem’s’ musical accompaniment is what truly brings it together as a show, providing an invaluable addition to the atmosphere. While they begin with unsettling, discordant ambiance before the show begins, their hauntingly beautiful refrains and upbeat dramatic sections help set the tone for any scenes they accompany, and are of course integral to the play’s multiple dance numbers as well.
Thought provoking, entertaining, occasionally perplexing and bizarre, and above all else captivating, ‘Golem’s’ is a unique and endearing avant-garde theatre experience. Though complex, the concepts at its heart are compelling, and the engaging presentation makes ‘Golem’s’ a play well worth seeing.
While its tour is almost over you can still catch ‘Golem’ at the following showtimes: