Charismatic Glasgow director-performer Al Seed is in fine form in ‘Everyday Vengeance’ - part of the city’s Surge arts festival.
Seed’s latest one-man show, staged in the Tron Theatre’s intimate Changing House studio space, is a mash-up of physical theatre and monologue which puts revenge under the performer’s microscope.
The hour begins with a lecture of sorts from the first of Seed’s characters, all performed under a disguise of some description - whether it be an actual mask or merely the barrier formed by the thick white pan stick applied to his face.
Playfully toying with the concept of vengeance, the silver-tongued ringmaster of the show suggests a kind of compensation culture for those who have been wronged, drawing the audience in with his circuitous justifications and outwardly plausible but reactionary viewpoints. He could be the devil himself, such is his charming and droll persuasiveness that vengeance is an undeniable right.
There then follows three interwoven narratives with revenge at their respective hearts; most intriguingly a fable about a crafty mouse attempting to con a friendly bear out of his food, lodgings and life.
Animal masks are utilised to help bring out the animal, but it is Seed’s tremendously subtle physical performance which makes them come alive - his quick fingers communicating the agitate, grasping mouse and his swaying swagger typifying the slow, soporific ursine.
Between chapters of this Aesop-inspired tale there’s glimpses of two more human stories; a soldier subjected to violence while serving his country and a middle-class Scot who discovers that his wife and brother are having an affair.
All three strands begin relatively lightly - comedically even - then descend to hellish depths where vengeance is enacted. The victims then shockingly lose control over the punishment exacted upon their tormentors.
The overall feeling is of a work that has interesting things to say about a fertile theme, but which is not yet fully-formed. Each vignette has enough intrigue to justify a work all to itself and diluting each down into a mere sketch does a disservice to the myriad of characters. It’s an fascinating peek into the mind of a talent whose sheer inventiveness and love of performance promises great things