10 February 2024
Plinth by Al Seed and Vanishing Point Theatre Company is beautiful to look at and certainly original, but I failed to take much more away from it.
As the audience enters the theatre, a statue awaits on a raised pedestal centre stage. Shrouded in mist and barely lit, I'm not sure the majority of the audience realised that it was a real person up there! But then as the auditorium lights dim, and the stage lights and music rise, the statue (writer / performer Al Seed) comes to life.
It's an interesting premise:
"A statue stands upon a plinth – a lightning rod for collective memory. Shocked into life, the statue descends into the war zone which surrounds it. Tormented by images of conflict, the statue battles to comprehend the world into which it has been thrust. As awareness grows, a monstrous transformation ensues."
Although billed as visual theatre, there is a real dance element to this piece. For the first ten minutes as the statue jerks awake and quivers on his plinth, it was unmistakably 'popping.' The muscle control and performance skill of the actor is evident. The movements are measured but intense, and he keeps that intensity up for the full 50 minute show. It's a powerful display of stamina.
There is no dialogue in this show but quiet it is not - the background music is loud! So loud that I could feel the vibrations pulsate through the auditorium floor, up through my seat and my whole body. I love that it's loud though; war is loud! And it demands your attention.
The highlight of this show is the stunning visuals. Every second, every movement could be a production still such is the artistry of the performer, the clever set and gorgeous lighting design. Look at the production photos scattered throughout this article. They're exquisite!
With such high production values, an imaginative idea and an excellent performer, it's inconceivable that I didn't enjoy this show more. But truthfully, I didn't understand what going on for the most part. I was intrigued but bewildered.
I read afterwards that: "Plinth is a poetic exploration of statues as artefacts of war, particularly with reference to the contentious archetype of the ‘hero’. The images within the performance are inspired by the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur; perhaps the ultimate tale of ‘hero’ vs. ‘other’."
But I'm afraid that was lost on me at the time. A statue come to life - yes. Reliving the horrors of war - yes. All else I'm afraid was over my head. I am well read but perhaps i'm just not clever enough.
I appreciate the originality and ambition here, but at the end of the day I didn't connect with the story, and it's 'the story' that evokes emotion in me. Despite the careful choreography, I couldn't comprehend what the performer was trying to express, and I found that frustrating. I should be able to follow the intent of a show without needing to Google it afterwards.
Plinth is exactly the sort of show I want to support: Original writing from Scotland that's inclusive and well produced. And I had heard nothing but positive reviews about it before seeing it for myself. That's what's so wonderful about live theatre - it is subjective. On this occasion the show was not for me, but I look forward to seeing what Al Seed and Vanishing Point do in future. They're truly exciting talents.
Plinth Creative Team
Written and Performed by Al Seed
Dramaturg Niloo-Far Khan
Production Management Niall Black
Costume & Prop Design Zephyr Liddell
Lighting Design and Show Operation Alberto Santos Bellido
Set Design Kai Fischer
Sound Design Guy Veale
Stage Management Zephyr Liddell
Costume Maker Emily Smit-Dicks
Prop Painter Jen Kilgour
Metalwork Technician Emma Hyslop
Produced by Al Seed Productions and Vanishing Point
Supported by Creative Scotland.
📸 Main promo photograph by Laurence Winram
📸 Production photos: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan
🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.
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