Mat Fraser, Sealboy: Freak

Review in Issue 13-2 | Summer 2001

The opening of Mat Fraser’s show Sealboy: Freak is shakily vitriolic: Fraser disingenuously congratulates an ‘able-bodied’ audience member for getting to the theatre without assistance. What follows is a relentless tirade against the prejudices a disabled performer faces.

Fraser has short arms due to the Thalidomide his mother took when she was pregnant and this ‘disability’ is the context of the show. He tells his story from both a personal perspective, as well as that of ‘Sealo the Sealboy’, a freak show performer in the States, and his crowd-pulling picture postcard-selling ‘handsies’.

Amidst the energetic display of his own talent as a performer, Fraser rages at not being given serious opportunities as an actor. He cites the example of a casting director querying his ability to rise to the challenge of multiple costume changes. He engages us with stories whilst confidently rolling a cigarette, changing costume, drinking a beer, playing drums. This is all unquestionable proof that at first glance Mat Fraser may be considered to have a ‘disability’ but that he is in fact perfectly ‘able’.

The show is strong, personal and poignant – Fraser admits to struggling with the physicality of cuddling. But I was left wondering how much of it was for the audience’s benefit and how much for Fraser’s; for him to be able to work through stuff on stage before he can move on. It would be great to see him set up his own theatre company, play Macbeth if he wants, and properly give the finger to those directors who have stupidly sidelined him in the past.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-2
p. 28