Future Cargo

Future Cargo Adelaide Fringe 20241/2

Adelaide Fringe. Future Cargo at Garden of Unearthly Delights. 21 Feb 2024


The Drivers Dog (with apologies to Bill Hayden)


A semi-trailer is idling in a grassy area at the rear of the Garden. Its cargo, a slab-sided shipping container. The driver (Tobias Manderson-Galvin) calms an unsettled dog whilst waiting to get on the highway. He’s nonplussed. Something’s not right. There’s a two-hour wait; something on the radio about a UFO is being reported nearby. He parks. He waits. Unbeknownst to him, the sides of the container roll up, and behind a backlit screen, the dancing silhouettes on the conveyor belt begin.


For this outdoor dance performance, the audience wears earphones and the audio and soundtrack is fed through a low strength transmitter. From the UK creative team of David Rosenberg and Frauke Requardt, Future Cargo examines something from what is possibly the very near future. Is this our ‘first contact’?


The dancers (Scott Elstermann, Chimene Steele-Prior and Felicity Boyd with Ruben Brown as dance captain) work to incredibly tight time margins, turning up ‘on stage’ time and again, moving in rigid and staccato fashion, then relaxed and sinuous, perhaps more human. That there were so few in the cast was a surprise; one is never waiting for an entrance. Exploring that which has stood the test of time, a sci-fi exploration of human interaction with aliens, the viewer is then left to consider whether the aliens take over and subsume humans or whether they are merely examined, mimicked and copied, then cast aside.


The piece is very well executed, and the choreography maintains the audience’s interest throughout. The headphones ensure that the experience is immersive, blocking out the noise from nearby Fringe shows and revellers. While Future Cargo is visually and aurally very satisfying, the narrative is all too familiar; there are no surprises here, and as both the dog and the truck driver are absorbed into the container, there’s a vague disappointment at the unsatisfying and cliched denouement. The performance is well delivered, but I realised later I had failed to find any real surprises.


Alex Wheaton


When: 21 Feb to 17 Mar

Where: Future Cargo at Garden of Unearthly Delights

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au