Al Seed is a Glasgow-based physical theatre practitioner – and one of the founding members of the highly esteemed Scottish theatre company Vanishing Point. His latest creation, Oog, is a forty minute solo piece that explores the theme of war through movement.
Set in a dystopian mythical space reminiscent of a First World War trench, Al leads us through the psychodrama of his protagonist: his pain, his bloodthirstiness, his regret, his longing for escape, his retreat into alcoholism. All of this is set to a score by Guy Veale: a haunting industrial soundscape that follows Oog’s emotional journey.
Al is a highly accomplished performer. He moves like a broken automaton: mechanical, repetitive and glitchy. And there is a weight of feeling behind his performance. It’s unsurprising to discover that he’s worked with the Russian physical theatre company Derevo – who make similarly dark, impassioned and otherworldly shows.
Sometimes the show could have done with clearer narrative signposting. A few of the sequences were quite hard to make out: battle scenes, in particular, became indistinct from one another – and there were times when I felt there were details I was missing.
I also personally wanted clearer ties to modern conflicts. I don’t doubt that making a play like this in 2015 (when it was first performed) amounts to a political statement. Again, I’m standing up for the stupid people in the room by asking for that to be made a bit more explicit.
But it’s a great show – strange, emotionally charged and uncompromising.