The Red Room
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 13 & Sat 14 Jun
Listening to David Hughes and Al Seed talk is like dropping in on a mutual appreciation society. Taking a break from rehearsals at Edinburgh’s Dance Base, the two men talk animatedly about their new project, The Red Room – and their admiration for each other’s work. Hughes has been one of Britain’s most captivating dancers for the past 20 years. Seed is an award-winning physical theatre performer whose quirky movement style is spellbinding to watch.
Now, they’ve come together to create a dance/physical theatre hybrid inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s, The Masque of the Red Death. The tale of a wealthy prince who holds a party in his opulent abbey, to escape the plague, poverty and pestilence outside, the piece is in stark contrast to Hughes’ earlier works.
‘It’s a big step away from repertory dance for me,’ he says. ‘This is my 23rd year as a dancer and The Red Room is like a breath of fresh air. I’d seen Al in The Factory and was just blown away by it – I had a gut instinct that I wanted to work with him.’ For Seed, the chance to work outside his usual remit held mass appeal. ‘I’ve been working solo for quite a long time,’ says Seed. ‘And for ages I’ve been screaming out for the opportunity to create something with a big group. So to be working with six people of David’s calibre is hugely exciting.’
Hughes and Seed will be joined on stage by two former members of Australian Dance Theatre, breaker Matt Foster and classical Indian dancer, Seeta Patel. Described by the Hughes as ‘beautiful, poignant and dark’, The Red Room has benefited from the melting pot of styles poured into it. ‘We’ve got such a wide variety of performer in the piece,’ says Hughes. ‘They’ve got backgrounds in physical theatre, breaking, ballet, Indian dance and hardcore Aussie dance. So I said to them don’t try and be a contemporary dancer, don’t emulate me – just be honest to your own discipline.’