The best shows at the Edinburgh Fringe are the unexpected ones. Every now and then you find something a little special in a small, packed and sweaty room somewhere. Wil Greenway is back at the Festival with his new show
Greenway refreshingly ignores popular taboo subjects in order to make an honest show with a huge heart.
The show begins with two musicians sitting at either end of a stage. Their voices are light, their lyrics seem cheesy and you wonder if we’re going anywhere. It is only when the songs become funny and self-referential that we can breathe a sigh of relief. Five minutes in, Greenway himself appears from the back of the auditorium. Without being too gushing, it’s fair to say that we are in the presence of a master storyteller. He commands everyone’s attention effortlessly. His has a rare ability of not only being wholly present as a performer, but he also makes the audience feel completely present, suggesting that we are taking part in a significant event.
His charisma as a performer and his rich friendly tone are reasons enough to see this show. Coupled with this is his undeniable ability as a word-smith. He begins with a heart-rending account of unrequited love featuring a girl called Margaret and Christmas in Melbourne. This is a story of how she abandoned him and become pregnant with another man’s baby. Having left her new lover, we join Margaret and a host of hilarious supporting characters on the night her baby is born.
In one of many funny moments he tells us he has the ability to time travel and so we can flit between location and time periods. In one particularly memorable scene we meet Greenway’s mother. A loving soul who never learned to “curb her kindness.” Of course our protagonist is selfish and too self-involved to ever think of giving his mum a call, not even on Christmas morning. What’s interesting here is that somehow Greenway never succumbs to over-indulgence. Nothing is ever too sugary sweet and even the most hardened of theatre goers would be hard pressed to remain unmoved.
No, there are no on on-the-pulse issues dealt with in this play. Greenway refreshingly ignores popular taboo subjects in order to make an honest show with a huge heart. There are no roaring messages. You’re just asked to be present, to look at what’s around you and, if you’re so inclined, to give your mum a call.