If you’ve ever wondered what Puzzle-Adventure-Gaming: Unplugged would look like, Fused is your answer. Ten players from the audience guide our protagonist, Ste, through a series of suitably cheesy and nonsensical scenes designed as an homage to 90s point-and-clickers, commanding him over a microphone to interact with non-player characters or pick up objects. As the clock ticks down to looming appointments or self-destruct systems, the unlikely team of theatre-goers must leave their dramatic expectations aside and revert to nights spent sitting with siblings around a PlayStation, brainstorming to figure out just how they’re going to get past that villain unseen. A clear split soon emerges among the audience as seasoned gamers gnaw knuckles while newbies flail in unfamiliar puzzle-logic — it takes a certain kind of person to see that a sandwich might be the key to the next level. Thankfully, the warm performance from Ste Murray opens this experience up for any level of player, and the pace of the show ensures the team in the front row bond quickly.
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.
Fused runs at Project Arts Centre until December 13.