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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Institute Review | Homemcr | Manchester

Gecko’s latest production is a disturbing and eccentric piece of physical performance art that focuses on issues surrounding men’s health. Institute confronts the breakdown of relationships, career pressures and death with an intense and almost unspoken production.

In our increasingly disconnected and fractured lives, the rate of male suicides have increased and statistically moved men to become three times more likely than a women to take their own lives. Women are seen to have better support systems in place, whilst also being more open and honest about their problems. Anxiety and depression remain largely ignored and contained by men despite their overwhelming effects.

Institute confronts and challenges these stereotypes by showing a community of men who are each other’s carers, colleagues and friends. The four performers Lahav, Chris Evans, Ryen Perkins-Gangnes and François Testory draw the audience into a fantastically enigmatic world of sky-high cabinets. While visually daunting, the men use them to compartmentalise their memories, fears and traumas in a controlled manner.

A lack of communication, the use of multiple languages and expressive dance recognises the men’s ability to connect on various levels. In contrast, the lacking of any meaningful conversation highlights a progressively noticeable barrier surrounding the men’s lives. Safe spaces and counsellors may not ring as macho terms but the lack of opportunities for these men to find spaces for open and honest conversations leads them to a physical break down.

The obstructions created by sky high cabinets that housed everything from work stations to dinner tables, captured a surreal world that darkened the themes of the play. The physical performances were gripping with the dances often used to accelerate the pace and energy for the audience alongside the productions difficult topic.

Institute manages to be both moving and entertaining through its use of poignant repetition. It certainly deserves praise for being a brave and ambitious production that serves to provoke a new conversation through movement.

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