JOYCE MCMILLAN on OOG at the Arches, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 3.11.14.
4 stars ****
IT ONLY LASTS FOR 30 intense minutes; but Al Seed’s latest solo show for the Arches is the kind of physical theatre piece that burns indelible images onto the memory, and raises disturbing questions about what happens when human beings morph into something different, leaving behind many of the qualities we often attach to the word “humanity”. The scene is a locked cellar, in a basement, at the end of a war; the memorable set and lighting, by Alex Rigg and Albert Santos, pours a beam of light down into the space through a rough metal tube reached by a small ladder.
In Seed’s performance, though, the creature that gradually emerges from a huge leathery carapace of a coat at the front of the stage cannot yet bring himself – or itself – to move up into the light. Instead, to a powerful score and soundscape by Guy Veale, he moves through spasms of disturbing and dishuman behaviour, sometimes like a stereotyped warrior-figure from a computer-game, sometimes like a giant insect, sometimes like some traumatised mammal, or a human being mentally destroyed, seeking Dutch courage from a stray bottle of spirits. Some of this repertoire of post-human movement is familiar – even cliched – in the current world of contemporary dance. In this fierce cameo of a show, though, Seed delivers it with a rare intensity, a blazing athleticism, and a feeling for visual imagery that sometimes takes the breath away; and although Oog is a tough experience to define, it’s one that will leave no-one who sees it completely unchanged.