Contemporary retelling of cannibal tale fails to set the blood pumping
This article is from 2011.
There is no end to the unpleasant images that choreographer and director Al Seed presents us with in this fetishistic modern retelling of the legend of Sawney Bean. Those familiar with the story of Scotland’s real or fictitious 16th century cannibal will find little to recognise in the mirrored set framed by coloured lights, the chaotic jazz and disco soundtrack, the seedy club of men in gimp masks and devil suits where Bean and his woman prey on their victims. Or the lair where the soon-to-be-sacrificed walk an imaginary plank in animal head masks while Bean (Alex Rigg) twitches in gleeful anticipation from behind one-way plexiglass.
There are moments here which are genuinely arresting – Lina Limosani’s initial solo in tribal body paint, her licking, convulsing limbs reminiscent of a lizard or fish; the twisted dance of death between Sawney and one of his victims; the sharp ugliness of the slippery jerky choreography. But mostly it just seems that Seed wants to beat us about the head with images of humiliated and degraded humans and the sick pleasure their perpetrators take in having power over them. And even this becomes less disturbing and more laborious, verging on the insulting, after a while.
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, until 28 Aug, times vary, £17–£19 (£6–£13).