Review: The Fusion Project

Having the ten names onstage in 2011’s iteration of the Fusion Project largely play adolescents was a good move. That let’s them act out maturation in two ways, both in the piece and as new performers still exploring their creativity. But a lot of good moves were made with Fusion this year. The kind of scenes they chose to do, and the structure they used to fit them all in, makes for an interesting and fun 45 minutes.

Each year, the Globe Theatre puts a few young performers under the direction of local talent and together they’re tasked with developing a performance piece for the Shumiatcher Sandbox Series. What they come up with can vary wildly in style – I could hardly find two theatrical performances more dissimilar than this one and the Fusion Project I saw a few years back.

While seeing burgeoning talent present something they’ve created is always exciting, this year’s group, under the direction of Lucy Hill and Judy Wensel, have made a piece that’s unique, compelling, and really entertaining.

How they decided to structure the performance is a big part of this. Part of the nature of the Fusion Project is that it incorporates different forms and styles. Working from the larger theme of adolescents allows a lot of freedom, while the individual scenes still feel like part of the whole. Short monologues spoken directly to the audience, dialogue scenes, well-choreographed set pieces, and even a dance number and a musical bit work their way in, without any of them feeling out of place. Scenes and characters that return throughout help tie everything together.

Plus, all ten performers have spotlight opportunities, and they’re all convincing and genuinely charming. I could see why they were chosen to be part of the project this year; a lot of obvious talent and hard work comes out of them.

The set pieces do deserve mention for their sophistication and originality. For example, a series of telephone calls done between three of the actresses takes place at the top of step ladders and with tin cans, with actors at the bottom of each to announce who’s calling who. With a quick pace and snappy dialogue, they pass inflammatory gossip between each other. It’s hard to make a new observation on the nature of schoolyard gossip, but that’s an afterthought to the imaginative approach they take to the scene.

A big temptation in writing this review was to call these performers “developing,” and no doubt every actor changes over time. For the record, though, let’s not confuse “developing” with “amateurish” or “entry level.” In 2011’s Fusion Project, they’ve made a compelling work that shows that they can close the book definitively on any kind of creative adolescence.

The Fusion Project continues through Saturday, April 2 at the Globe Theatre.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.