Last Orders dance piece based on Sawney Bean
Al Seed Fringe piece on 16th century Scottish cannibal
This article is from 2011.
Anthony Hopkins’ quivering lips, as he extols the fava beans, Chianti and human liver combo, is one of the most disturbing yet compelling images in Silence of the Lambs. For while serial killers might be scarily fascinating, they’re ten a penny compared to cannibals. ‘It’s the final taboo’, says Al Seed, director/choreographer of Last Orders, a dark new show inspired by the 16th century Scottish cannibal, Sawney Bean. ‘Whatever vicious, horrible thing you do to somebody, there’s one final thing you can do – eat them.’
Last Orders reunites Seed with David Hughes Dance Company, the winning team behind 2008’s excellent The Red Room. The show promises to be an ambitious dance/theatre representation of Bean and his flesh-eating family, who spent decades living in caves and bringing passers-by home for dinner. Although what Bean and his family really got up to is a matter of historical debate.
‘There was certainly a figure called Alexander Bean,’ says Seed. ‘But the more you read about him, you begin to realise that if he actually did all the things attributed to him, he would have to be in a dozen places at once and live to 115. So many myths have grown up around him, it’s hard to separate the history from the legend – which was very attractive for us, because it gave us a lot of room to explore the mystery of the whole thing.’
With so many accounts of Bean’s feasts to choose from, Seed and Hughes have opted for a more abstract approach. ‘Rather than going for a narrative angle, it’s more about using structures from visual art and music, like rhythm, tempo and shapes,’ says Seed. ‘We’re taking people on a hallucinatory theatrical journey.’
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, 17–28 Aug (not 22), times vary, £17–£19 (£12–£13). Preview 16 Aug, 10am, £12 (£6).