A darkened space, save for a single shaft of light.
A figure, ambiguous in both sex and shape twitches alone.
A head hangs weighty on two shaking shoulders.
An arm moves (vaguely) then the head, swinging almost separate from the body, swinging, swinging, like a metronome. Then down. Too heavy. Aaaand up.
And a man (isn’t it?) grimaces with the effort of simply being, before both eyes, as bright and vacant as a full moon, shining with malevolence, awaken in their wretched sockets, and it is Al Seed, the last survivor or first of many more in a cellar, moving with laboured effort to become, yes, a man of sorts. A jerking, creaking man in an oversized greatcoat, smeared with dark makeup and moving like a seizure has taken hold of him. Completely out of control now. The fizzing soundtrack (Pan Sonic, Mica Levy and other such soundscapes, with original sound from Guy Veale) intensifies, almost to breaking point. Out Of Gauge.
Al Seed’s newest creation, a companion piece to 2007’s The Factory is a brutal concrete slab of physical theatre placing him in a postapocalyptic planet where his movements are like stopframe motion. Yet it is all him no effects, no CGI to hide behind and it is incredible. Struggling free of the coat which enshrouds him, he is now exposed a vulnerable, slight figure in khaki vest and trousers.
At times, it is as though we are all implicated in his plan he winks, mouths, smirks, glowers at the audience for what? Assistance? Affirmation? Brain working faster than activity will allow, he becomes, variously; sad clown, zombie killer, demented neighbour who ‘kept to himself’ as The Daily Mail puts it, Vietnam vet with the helicopters whirring behind him like an interminable nightmare, happy clown, heretic, Magritte like figure in bandages, fashioning weapons out of cones which attach to his arms, or simply aid him in walking like prosthetic limbs.Ever shifting. Out Of Genre.
Strewn around the floor are newspapers, seemingly curled up in embarrassment at displaying old headlines, and to the left a ladder, leading to… who knows where. He shows us a map, pointing frantically to arrows, but communication is nighon impossible here. The old order has been torn up. The rules are yet to be devised. Language is redundant, only crablike movement, vaudeville bursts and grotesque parody remains. Lunacy and posttraumatic stress disorder in a forced marriage. It’s impossible to take your eyes off him, and he is utterly mesmerising, until the last beam of light.
Al Seed is aware that the most monstrous figures and outsiders are also the most pathetic, as with King Kong, Frankenstein’s monster, and Edward Scissorhands innocents all. He is one of the most precise and visceral performers working today. We should treasure him. ‘Real horror show’, to quote Anthony Burgess’ similarly dystopian comrades .
He’s a wrong ‘un, that Al Seed. A Bad Seed. In all the right ways.OOG.