Wil Greenway: The Way the City Ate the Stars

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 The Way the City Ate the Stars. Part-storytelling, part-comedy and part-monologue, this is a captivating story about love, loss and life’s “intangibles.”

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.

Reviews by Aidan Stark

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Margaret is counting the minutes between her contractions. I'm in a car, closing in on the hospital, rushing towards her. Unfortunately, so is Uncle Sven. Award-winning storyteller Wil Greenway returns with a brand new show. 'Storytelling at its best... bittersweet, hilarious and heart-breaking' ***** (ThreeWeeks). 'Weirdly charming and charmingly weird... intimate, silly and stunningly poetic' **** (BroadwayBaby.com). 'This show has a huge, beating and bloody heart' ***** (EdFringeReview.com). Winner, Underbelly Edinburgh Award, sold out show 2015.

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