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SWEET AND SURREAL COMEDY

Print Version

Auckland Fringe 2013
A NIGHT TO DISMEMBER
Wil Greenway

at The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 16 Feb 2013 to 2 Mar 2013

Reviewed by Hannah Smith, 25 Feb 2013


Wil Greenway is a Melbourne-based comic and story-teller. His surrealist one man show is a combination of flowery writing, off-the-wall humour and a straight-up likeable performance style; a mix that makes for a mad-as-a-snake monologue that is more than the sum of its parts. 

Greenway, as narrator, is a sweet and simple lad who has just had his arm bitten off by a shark.  This improbable premise is just the beginning of a series of unlikely (and oft unfortunate) events encompassing asteroids, dingoes, zombies, grapes and more blood and pus than you'd find at the ER on a Saturday night.  There are battles, parties, love and loss, friendship and family …

But the pleasure of this story is entirely in the telling. While the bizarre content is often juvenile, the writing is a sophisticated and unusual mix of peculiar poetic images and a downbeat slang and colloquialism. Much of the surprise and the comedy springs from the tension between these styles. 

Similarly Greenway's performance negotiates the awkward territory in between heartfelt emotions and understated deadpan.  He opens the show dancing a slow pas de deux with an inflatable shark, his eyes brimming with tears, as he mouths the words to a Bon Iver song. It could be so silly, but instead, it works. 

The story is well structured and tight, and the delivery feels effortless, although there are a few unnecessary flourishes – the amputated hands and bunches of grapes that bedeck the stage are superfluous – and the switch from Greenway as the narrator character to bewigged Kev is not sufficiently signalled, sod feels like changing the rules of the game unnecessarily late in the play. 

But this is sweet and surreal comedy and great storytelling, from a likeable and intelligent performer. Get along to it. 
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