Oog

A belated denouement to his lauded 2005 work The Factory, award-winning performer Al Seed returns to the subject of war with striking psychological rigour. Secluded in an underground bunker, the war outside may be over, but the war inside a lost soldier’s mind has just begun. As Seed’s paint-smeared clown tries to reconcile his shell-shocked mind with a future free of slaughter, we watch this cognitive dissonance turn him from man into machine.

Oog may feel like it’s coming to get you, but in reality, you should be running to find it.

From start to finish, Oog is all atmosphere. In the lingering haze of conflict, white light slices across Alex Rigg’s barren set as if repressed memories, desperate to be acknowledged. Guy Veale’s exceptional minimalist score sets an irregular pulse, complimenting the distorted nature of the soldier’s transformation, yet offering a structural roundness that makes everything feel considered. Not only this, but the soundscape manages to cultivate nuance which would otherwise be lost in the constant intensity of the movement. Together, the design elements are oppressive, backing the audience into the same corner that the solitary figure in front of them is trying to escape.

Then of course there’s Seed himself. Jerking around the space like a PTSD-addled Joker, what really sets his powerhouse performance apart is that, by combining elements of both dance and clowning, he has achieved a psychological expressiveness otherwise impossible. His face endlessly twists and contorts to unsettling effect as he presents a man trying - and failing - to keep up appearances, something which is mined for the darkest of humour. It is on the body that this soldier wears his trauma, twitching like a broken record, not for a moment comfortable in his own skin. Watching Seed fight for his humanity and gradually lose is an achingly sad journey, but an inevitable one played with tremendous punch.

A little more light and shade wouldn’t have gone amiss, but the whole creative team have achieved an impeccable unity, fostering an environment which is very affecting indeed. Oog may feel like it’s coming to get you, but in reality, you should be running to find it.

Reviews by Joe Christie

Dance Base

Oog

★★★★
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★★★
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Summerhall

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★★★
Summerhall

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★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Oog leads you deep into the fractured mind of a shell-shocked soldier. An intensely physical, and poetic, exploration of the trauma of conflict and the psychological damage it inflicts. A new dance-theatre piece from multi-award-winning choreographer-performer, Al Seed. 'Visual imagery that sometimes takes the breath away … an experience that will leave no-one who sees it completely unchanged’ (Scotsman). Oog is a companion piece to The Factory, which won the Jury Prize at the Arena Festival, Nuremberg, was shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award, and enjoyed performances at the ICA, London, as part of London International Mime Festival, 2006.