|One of the best 2014 shows according to Trinity College Dublin based tn2 Magazine:
Dan Bergin should be commended for making a show in a genre that feels completely new but made out of materials which are completely clichéd. The participatory nature of this delightfully retro throwback to 90s gaming made for much more than your average trip to the theatre. – HK
The Irish Times It’s worth remembering the fun you can have with a mouse. This interactive performance, a charming and ingeniously conceived “point-and-click” adventure game, gleefully revives the problem-solving comic scenarios of the best PC games. Taking turns at the controller (a microphone) the audience guide their avatar, Ste, through a world of mobsters or sci-fi (you decide) issuing commands: talk to the gangster; pick up the hat; flirt with the old woman. It’s also an opportunity to put the performers, quick-witted improvisers, through their paces while either co-operating or (more likely) competing with your fellow players. (Peter Crawley)
Dan Bergin’s Fused achieves that which seems almost impossible – a show that relies almost entirely on improvisation, audience participation and interactivity, but which is also completely non-intimidating to even the least initiated theatre goer. (…) The premise is clever, and although inspired by the now dated ’90’s “Point and Click” game, is sure to appeal to the social media obsessed generation who love a platform on which to share their opinions and have their voices heard.
The sheer complexity of the possible outcomes and storylines that Bergin and the cast have prepared is mesmerizing and inspiring. Murray steals the show with his effortless charm and subtle sarcasm towards the audience. Overall the actors work wonderfully together, they are on top of their improvisation, pace and energy as they portray a multitude of characters. There is an element of confidence in this ensemble that balances the riskiness of the unknown of the performance. The entire piece is meticulously thought out, extremely well choreographed and spontaneously fun. (…) The audience love Fused. From start to finish they were transfixed, eager to solve all the puzzles and delighted to yell out possible answers. Fused is, in two words, pure fun.
Dan Bergin has scripted the piece with a keen eye for gaming convention, full of delightfully repetitive and vapid dialogue that’d fit perfectly on any console. The improvisation required by the cast is incredible with Murray completely at the audience’s whim: a command to move into the next room requires an entire scene-change, and these can come every 30-second turn. As a nod to the older gaming-models mentioned at the opening of the show, this play fits the bill perfectly, forgettable and irrational plot included. This format is fresh and welcome, and Bergin’s next step might be to emulate the progression of more meaningful gaming.
The show was highly imaginative and took a great degree of skills and improvisation on the part of the actors as they needed to shift and adapt both their dialogue and the sets based on audience choices. Well done!
Fused takes the energy of theatre and mashes it together with the enjoyment of gaming. It’s a visceral experience dreamt up by Dan Bergin and takes being an audience member to a bonus level. The interactive shows will challenge you to navigate the protagonist through a series of mind-bending puzzles, and as the audience are at the controls, no night is ever the same.
Did you ever imagine your video game avatar losing it? Talking back to you? Not being able to hide astonishment with your idiotic commands or helping you out in a moment of crisis? Meet Ste. In real life he’s an Irish actor and renowned photographer Ste Murray, on stage he becomes PCC (Player Controlled Character) in a live gaming adventure FUSED.
Bergin’s production is in fact an exercise in digital nostalgia, taking its cue from the “point-and-click” games of the late 1980s. The premise is straightforward enough: a panel of randomly selected audience members take turns to navigate the drama’s central character Ste, aka actor Ste Murrary, through a series of scenarios. Along the way, Ste finds puzzles that need solving and encounters various stock characters – wiseguy gangsters, fleeing spies, femmes fatales – who have to be negotiated with in order for him to progress further.
It’s all “I’m your broken doll, and you’re my puppeteer” with this live, point-and-click videogame adventure. With lighting and a kitschy, caricaturish set design from wunderkind Zia Holly, the audience gets to play God with the protaganist (Ste Murray) as he challenges the audience to safely shepherd him through increasingly complex scenarios whilst abiding by the rules of the traditional point-and-click video game. A group of what this aul’wan thought were teenagers (really couldn’t tell though) went absolutely wild for the premise, so if your tween is scandalised because you’re disinterested in cyber-queuing for One Direction tickets for them, this might sweeten them up. If you don’t have teens/tweens, sure who cares. You still get ID’d for cigs, right?! / Kate Coleman
… the show is far from being solely of interest to gamers. It’s hilarious, largely improvised and ridiculously tense. (…) Most impressive about Fused is simply the engagement. I was on the edge of my seat, shouting at the front row audience members controlling Ste, amazed at how they missed something obvious but then solved something I had not considered.
Fused is probably the best video game I’ve played all year. Which is pretty impressive when you consider that it’s a play. The premise is simple: selected members of the audience are called to the front row and asked to guide the show’s bumbling protagonist, Ste (Ste Murray), through a series of challenges in which he must interact with the on-stage props and characters, (played by Barry Morgan, Annie Gill, Eddie Murphy, and Camille Lucy Ross)to progress the story. In the show’s introduction, we are given a brief history of the point-and-click video-games that inspired the show’s format. People who see Fused will have different experiences of the show depending on their familiarity with the medium, and this definitely came across in the behaviour of the different audience members- henceforth known as “players”- who were brought up from the audience.
Being a sort of strange love letter to an era gone by, there are plenty of quirks and idiosyncrasies in the production that will resonate with people who are a little more au fait with the art of video games. Most notable of these is the economical set design by Zia Holly, which was a great marriage between the basic, almost ugly design typical of these games, and the charming and cartoonish world of the main story. These quirks could be as obvious as a giant “LOADING” screen being pushed across the stage during transitions, or as covert as a non-interactive prop having an “out of order” sign slapped across it.
(…) Fused is theatre at its most accessible- and indeed, perhaps the show’s most impressive feat was being completely reliant on audience interaction without missing a beat or feeling forced. The thing that gets said most often about interactive theatre is that it brings the audience into the production. Video games are the opposite. A developer makes a game, creates a set of characters, releases it into the world and from there they are done. From the moment a player turns on their console, it’s their responsibility and theirs alone to bring the work to its conclusion. Fused isn’t just interactive in a way that plays rarely are, it’s malleable in a way that video games, by their definition, can never be.