Lee and Dawes, In the Ether

Review in Issue 8-3 | Autumn 1996

In the Ether was a musical experience. Using a variety of arcane and self-manufactured instruments Ray Lee and Harry Dawes took the audience on a journey to the boundaries of sound and science. The show intrigued the ears certainly but as a piece of theatre was decidedly underwhelming. It was another take on the end of the millennium fear and mistrust of technology. Gadgetry, despite being central to the show, was treated with awed suspicion; tales of people mutilated and irreparably altered by electronics abounded. Lee and Dawes operated their instruments, but feigned an air of innocence – both amazed and appalled at their power.

It was this role-playing that most grated. The operation of the instruments had about it a performative aspect but was non-fictional performance (i.e. its purpose was rooted not in character, time nor place but was, rather, a response to the unique demands of the instrument). This would be fine except that it was never happily integrated into the show’s fictional matrix. This matrix found its fullest realisation during a Fran Boyle film which provided something of a visual centrepiece but which floated oddly adrift from the stage action. In short, the audience was never sure whether they were watching ‘Lee’ and ‘Dawes’ the characters or Lee and Dawes the music technicians. Does it matter? The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’! Judged as performance it seldom transcended the level of an illustrated lecture. However, as a thing of curiosity, as tricks to be marvelled at, In the Ether did not disappoint.

Artforms
Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jun 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 8-3
p. 21