In the atmospheric nest that is ‘The Burrow’, a good crowd of us are introduced to our storyteller, friend and comic of the night, Wil Greenway. He weaves us two tales – his own and that of the eponymous Vincent - in a world of contradictions, unbelievable lies and the odd goose or two. His language is remarkably poetic, overflowing with sibilance, assonance and similes that compulsively fall from his lips.
Remarkably poetic, overflowing with sibilance, assonance and similes that compulsively fall from his lips.
He begins by blowing up two balloons in time to music – with all the enthusiasm of a children’s clown and guides them to fall through the air – this motif is compared to eggs and a number of other things falling in convoy from a great comparative height. This serves to foreshadow the climax of the story – two men falling to almost certain death from the top of a building.
In the tradition of Tristram Shandy, we are first taken to the scene of our host’s birth, where he is cut from his apparently lifeless mother with a fishing hook. Our performer then looks sheepish as he says “I’d hate for some stretching of the truth to make things tricky between us.” This postmodern engagement with the audience is very funny and his blatant deviation from the truth is playful and charming.
Vincent himself is a scrawny boy whose position as his father’s son is usurped by his brawny sister - as he prefers to collect shells than play sports. The comedy of the tale often nods towards the Shakespearean double plot. We have Vincent and Wil, two parents both called Terry, a child who is carried off by two geese, who drops two marbles, which are chased by the Terrys’ now deceased dog and of course two men falling from a building.
Greenway is a writer and performer with great promise, but this is certainly a work in progress. A few line fluffs were comically acknowledged but a more experienced performer would have got away with this. But the big mistake was engaging with his director behind us – it really punctured the performance.
Greenway is certainly a writer, and an extremely clever one - but we get the sense that his transition to the stage is not fully realised. The language needs to be simplified - some of the similes and sibilance slashed because it felt too scripted. It was stretched at points and by the end this cascade of language was wearing. Despite this, skill was demonstrated. Greenway has an awkward charm and humour which the room warmed to. With some refinement I would be excited to see him again.