It is commonplace to be moved to tears by a bittersweet story. It is much rarer to be similarly moved by optimism and the sheer force of joy. But in their nine-strong physical theatre piece The Wedding, Gecko and creator Amit Lahov nail it, as if they are preachers with a limitless supply of mojo. If only the feeling could be distilled into a single pill you could take each morning.
The wedding referred to in the title isn’t the kind between partners. No; it’s the marriage of the individual and the system. It’s the welding of the person to the briefcase, the signing away of one’s soul to capitalism. I now pronounce you man and State. In the world of The Wedding, you fly in through a green chute clutching your teddy. You’re welcomed, coddled, flattered, convinced to part with your bear and distracted by a pretty white dress. Then, faster than you can say “I do”, you’re signing your name on the dotted line, a briefcase is thrust into your chest and you’re whisked away to a life beyond your control.
There’s plenty of dialogue throughout the show, but since English is only one of many languages used, it’s not possible to understand most of what is said. That doesn’t matter in the slightest, as Gecko’s choreography is a universal dialect. It’s comprised of authentic, everyday gestures: the air-punch of victory, the limp of exhaustion, the sigh of relief. Its original soundtrack (composed by Dave Price) ranges from electronic to operatic, with segments of primal drumming a regular punctuation. With pinpoint precision, the dancers synchronise jerking limbs to these drumbeats with visceral impact.
Rich imagery runs through the whole affair. In one stunning sequence, a man’s phone, tie and briefcase float about autonomously, rising to fit to his body as his girlfriend kisses him goodbye. Later he starts to reject the oppressive objects which float together some distance from him, but his girlfriend goes on interacting with them, unable to see that her boyfriend isn’t there.
The Wedding is a gut-cry of revolution that will grab you by the serotonin glands. It’s glorious, honest and funny, performed with heart and presented with distinct style. And my gosh – the ending!
Gecko is the first UK company to be programmed for the Barbican’s main stage in the long history of the London International Mime Festival, which was founded in 1977.
Review by Laura Foulger