Sunday, September 10, 2017


Jack Riley and Alexander Hunter

photo: Andrew Sikorski

Choreographed by Jack Riley
Sound designed by Alexander Hunter
Lighting by Nick McCorriston
Ralph Wilson Theatre 7 – 9 September 2017

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

“Fuse” is the first of three offerings in the 2017 Ralph Indie 2017 program. The Ralph Indie 2017 program supports artists to develop and present new performance works, and encourages innovation, experimentation and cross-disciplinary investigations.

In creating their purposely ambiguous work, dancer Jack Riley and sound artist and composer, Alexander Hunter have set out to “explore the possible (dis)connections and relationships between sound and movement, light and dark, dominance and subjugation, interiors and exteriors and reality and fantasy”, drawing  their inspiration from sci-fi and fantasy films and books as well as Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology.

According to their program notes they approached the project with no preconceived ideas of content or structure, simply utilising objects found in the space when they arrived. And that’s exactly how it looks.

A promising  sense of mystery is established when a figure (Alexander Hunter), wearing a dark boiler suit and welding mask, enters pushing  a trolley on which appears to be a  bubble-wrapped body. Leaving the trolley, he moves to the side of the stage, sits on a stool and commences to play a series of strident chords on the cello. Slowly the body on the trolley begins to move and unwrap, revealing Jack Riley, dressed in a white boiler suit, who sets about ceremoniously  transferring a set of metal cylinders  from the trolley onto a white cloth at the side of the performance area.

Once this task is completed, Riley removes the trolley, and then takes the bow, cello and stool from Hunter. Hunter leaves the stage and from then until the final section, a moody recorded soundscape  the activity.

A harsh white light reveals a wooden platform leaning against the wall. Riley performs several running and sliding manoeuvres on the platform, before ceremoniously cutting a cord with scissors to set off strip lights which pulse wildly as he performs some impressive spinning movement on the floor.

While a voice-over intones a poem, he wheels a set of steps onto the stage, and spins them around before placing a mirror on them. Hunter re-enters, walks up steps to the mirror while Riley rewraps himself in bubble-wrap, and as the lights fade, slowly pulls the cloth containing the metal cylinders to the centre of the stage.

All this mildly interesting activity takes about 30 minutes with each member of the audience drawing their own conclusions as to the symbolism. From the little actual dance contained in the piece, it’s obvious that Riley is a talented dancer, so it’s a pity he didn’t use this opportunity to explore that talent rather than indulging in the pretentious claptrap he presents here. 

This review first published in the digital edition of CITY NEWS on 8th September 2017