The Scotsman, 1997
The message of last year’s Boilerhouse spectacular, Irvine Welsh’s Headstate, was a simple, even touching one: capitalism is bad. And, er, that was it. While it looked and sounded extraordinary, it lacked the intellectual rigour that would have secured it a place in the theatrical history books.
This year, Boilerhouse premieres Spencer Hazel’s Seizer. The comedy-stuffed punters should get down on their bended knees and thank them. It is like a bomb going off. An explosion of visceral energy and uncompromising political witting; a spike of loathing and contempt banged hard into the complacent heart of the Fringe.
Hazel’s legitimate targets are the members of the audience: both in the show, sitting and enjoying the degradation of three onstage contestants in an arena; and at home afterwards, stonily flipping channels in search of the next sensation.
In charge of the sick circus is Seizer, a projection of the demented energy of Tam Dean Burns, an info- tainment monster slobbering over the misery of his victims. But, hey, it is done with a cheeky wee grin, so that’s all right.
His unwitting exhibits for the evening are Jan Knightly, Denise Evans and Michelle Gomez, using their own names to blur the divide between reality and fiction, in an excoriating look at the.intrusiveness of modern television. As each is subjected to a pitiless examination, live video projections offer riveting pathological close-ups of their suffering.
Meanwhile Seizer prowls the crowd with idiot cards, cheerfully finding accomplices for the interrogation.
This is the sort of daytime kiss-and-tell, shockumentary and game show rolled into one most of us only dream of seeing. If the media alone were the objects of Seizer’s wrath, it would not work. But as Burn says, he and his kind are slaking “a thirst straight from the popular gut acids”. We like our news to come in stories with a beginning, a middle and and end, and no sense of need of action. Ready- made outrages and bitesize atrocities are what keep the ratings sweet. The hand that rocks the tuner is to blame.
Rabid, brutal, restless – surrender unto Seizer the price of admission today.