The Golem

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Editorial Review

PREVIEW: Dark passage: ‘The Golem’
By Stephanie Merry
Friday, July 13, 2012

Sometimes a familiar title can be a boon. Just look at the box-office-topping “Amazing Spider-Man.”

And other times?

“There are two responses,” Daniel Flint says of his one-man adaptation of Gustav Meyrink’s 1915 novel, “The Golem.” Some assume the title refers to the mythical mud creature, a sort of mute superhero, once said to have protected the Jewish inhabitants of a Prague ghetto. “Other people say, ‘Oh, like Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings”?’ ”

No, this is not Middle-earth, Flint explains, although the Taffety Punk production does promise magic and suspense. The story is about jeweler Athanasius Pernath and his sudden memory loss, which leads him through a dreamlike sequence, including jarring confrontations with tarot cards and curious memories of murder. Narrative threads tend to fray in this trailblazing example of surrealistic horror, but something about the confounding story always appealed to Flint.

The story “is about a man who’s handed a book, and when I was handed this book, I read it and it just really shook me,” says Flint, who portrays a number of characters in “The Golem.” “It caught me off guard. I didn’t quite understand it, but I knew there was something I needed to understand. It’s in­cred­ibly esoteric, but it’s also this spooky, wonderful, spine-tingling journey.”

Speaking of journeys, Flint worked on the script on and off for about seven years. This incarnation, directed by Joel David Santner, is the first production to come out of Taffety Punk’s Generator, an initiative to promote new work by company members. It debuts Saturday as part of Round House Theatre’s inaugural Over the Line festival.

“It’s still kind of a step in the process. It’s given me a chance to take what’s been on the page for years and put it in my body,” Flint says. “And it’s actually helped me hone the script.”

The play is billed as a one-man show, but Flint won’t be entirely alone onstage. Josh Taylor will lurk onstage as musician Jupiter Rex, providing music and sound effects and symbolizing the title character, whom Flint describes as the protagonist’s doppelganger.

“The golem represents our other half, what we think is the dark half,” Flint says. “But maybe it’s just another part of us that we need to integrate.”

It’s moody material, calling to mind a less-linear Edgar Allan Poe. It seems appropriate, then, that the shows are being staged late in the evening. The 90-minute performances begin at 10:30 p.m. on two consecutive Saturdays.

Much like the story, which sometimes feels like loosely integrated vignettes, the play’s format is hardly straightforward. Flint goes from embodying three characters at once to storytelling mode, directly addressing the audience, then fading into the background as Taylor launches into one of three musical performances.

“It’s kind of a weird hybrid,” Flint says.

But amid the narrative maze and array of artistic disciplines lies something that feels universal.

“Underneath it all, I think it’s just basically about a man, or a person, who’s coming to a deeper understanding of who they are,” Flint says.

Even Spider-Man can relate to that.