Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Four stars

War, memorial and the mythology of both explode out of Al Seed’s new solo show, which stopped off for a brief tour of duty at the Manipulate festival of visual theatre this weekend following its premiere in 2023. Ostensibly a reimagining of Theseus and the Minotaur story, in which the dashing prince Theseus seeks to slay the half-man, half-bull minotaur and end its killing spree, over an intense fifty minutes, Seed takes this ancient Greek yarn hostage to make it his own.

It begins with Seed standing on top of the platform that makes up the bulk of Kai Fischer’s battle scarred set, with Seed looking like a war game figurine on guard in an Action Man lookout tower. Coming to life twitching like an automaton on a loop programmed to kill, as all men of war are, Seed climbs down from his pedestal to take on all comers and rid the world of the enemy at the door. Without a word spoken, the electronic clatter of Guy Veale’s score gives Seed’s trip into the heart of darkness a quasi operatic, sub spaghetti western vibe as our man with no name goes into battle, illuminated by shafts of light that rip up the battlefield.

Co-produced with the Vanishing Point company, Seed’s mini epic is performed with the same level of contained focus one imagines those in uniform have drilled into them before they march into the frontline. As Seed’s defending icon squares up to invading forces, however justified the sword he wields might be, his pathway to heroic status seems guaranteed. Rightly or wrongly, this is how legends are born. Only later, once the dust settles, do they come crashing down to earth in Seed’s astonishing display of tightly wound physical bravura.