Sunday, September 17, 2017


Jack Riley and Alexander Hunter

Ralph Wilson Theatre

Gorman House

Season Closed

Reviewed by Samara Purnell

Obtuse in its inspiration and its meaning, “Fuse” is the result of collaboration between Jack Riley and Alexander Hunter. Riley and Hunter choreographed and designed this work, around 30 minutes in length, drawing inspiration from a myriad of sources – from sci-fi, ancient civilizations and mythology to concepts of power, control and subjugation.

The creators worked with the objects available on site in the theatre, turning them into props. The result was a multi-dimensional set with the stage slowly revealed by the performers, who used the small space creatively and effectively. The props, including a staircase, mirror and what looked like canisters from a lab, were focused on and manipulated throughout the show.

The interplay between Riley, as dancer and Hunter, musician, began with a focus on action and reaction. Hunter, in overalls and welding visor, wheeled Riley’s motionless body, wrapped in plastic, onto the stage. Initially Hunter held the balance of power, using it in an exploratory, inquiring manner, to eventually coax Riley into movement. The performers experimented with sounds, created by Hunter on viola da gamba, with placement of self and with subtle manipulation of each other. Eventually, as if dancer has proven himself to musician, or mastered his environment, the balance shifts, as Hunter is drawn or perhaps led to a path Riley has created or conquered, to ascend the stairs and see his reflection as he removes his visor.

The soundscape used the viola strings and the sound of rain, before giving way to a passage of spoken word, a random stream of consciousness and disconnected words. Whilst poetry such as Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” came to mind, there is a significant leap between the musings of Ginsberg and the indulgent rambling presented here.

"Fuse" is an experiential piece, creating a visual impact, along with an immersive soundscape and effective lighting resulting in a distinctive ambience in a post-apocalyptic, space-like setting,

Riley's dancing was graceful, smooth and controlled. At one point, he used a sloped, folded platform to slide, climb and balance on. Segments of the performance lend themselves to improvisation, which has been retained by the duo. Longer passages of dance and live music would have been welcomed and added to the dramatic tension.

Within a framework of various themes, what fusion is or isn't there remains undefined.