Gecko Theatre Company, spanning from 2001, introduces its sixth production, Institute, to the Hall for Cornwall this February. The stage, surrounded by tall filing cabinets and the impression of never-ending corridors, presents two men, Daniel and Martin, who are haunted by old memories and events. When they open one of the filing cabinet drawers they hear a memory; for Daniel it’s a surprise birthday party, winning an award and the happy memory of a day at the beach. Martin longs for his lost love, Margaret, and relives the same moment with her again and again.
We inspire, move and entertain our audiences. In Institute, Gecko goes above and beyond to achieve their aim as a company. The performance is a mixture of reality and a dream landscape. With a cast only four men-strong, it is quite a feat to keep an audience entertained for seventy-five straight minutes, with no interval. The effect of not having a break halfway through results in the audience entering into the dream-like world themselves. The message is essentially how humans rely on one another for support and direction in life.
The performance relies heavily on movement rather than dialogue, with sound and lighting also playing a role almost rivaling that of the actors. Each actor is perfectly timed in their movements, and the shapes their bodies can make are unnatural yet beautiful. They are earthly, primal exchanges that dialogue is unable to fully express. Blue and red lighting draws attention to facial expressions, memories and dream sequences, with music setting the atmosphere.
Although Institute is primarily a serious play; it is not all doom and gloom. There are humorous moments throughout, usually occurring between Daniel and Martin in their library of filling cabinets. The use of salsa music and representation of a woman using only a pair of hands is comically well timed yet intriguing.
In a standout scene, Martin is transformed into a human puppet, being literally pulled and pushed into actions by the other actors. The action is raw and an interesting take on the relationship one has with society and their position in it. Watching Institute is like being sucked into someone else’s dreams. It helps to try and immerse oneself into the performance, rather than trying to analyse it; it is to be experienced and not overly deconstructed. What each member of the audience takes away from Institute differs from one person to the next. Ultimately, Gecko’s Institute explores the relationship between friends and how they care for one another; it is executed perfectly, with just the right amount of dim lighting and intriguing characters that are perhaps not as unusual as the audience may first assume.
To find out more about Gecko’s Institute, follow them on Twitter, @GeckoTheatre