Fringe World review: Wil Greenway: the way the city ate the stars ·
The Blue Room Theatre, 28 January ·
Review by Claire Trolio ·
The stage is set simply: two chairs and a music stand. Soon, two barefooted singers emerge and we are transported to Melbourne with a song from Kathryn Langshaw and Conor Greenway. It’s summer, Christmas time, and our characters are unmistakably in the Victorian capital. The next hour of storytelling from Wil Greenway is punctuated by the acoustic twang, pretty drawl and highly descriptive, lyrical verse of the two musicians.
When Wil Greenway, our similarly shoeless storyteller, arrives he makes certain that, if anyone was still unsure where his tale is set, they now know. He really makes sure. It could easily be too much, but it’s funny and the crowd loves his mix of humility, humour and poignancy.
This is how Greenway tells a story: it’s him and his words; storytelling stripped back to its simplest form. He wants you to know that he’s right there with you – the intimacy accentuated by the tight confines of the Blue Room main theatre space – and his personal delivery keeps you hanging on every word.
The way the city ate the stars whirls us through different emotions, funny, sweetly romantic and heartbreaking all at once. A touching moment, as an old man remembers his deceased wife, quickly becomes a vulgar description of crying. There’s no arc of emotion, instead we leapfrog from feeling to feeling, one minute to the next.
Greenway’s script is poetic. He uses traditional devices, an abundance of simile, alteration and repetition, to carry us on a cloud of beautiful poesy. One of the work’s most delicate moments comes after a brutal juncture; Greenway is surprised by how quickly “the birds and trees start talking again” and “how calm the ocean sounds.” It is exquisite storytelling.
The way the city ate the stars was met with a standing ovation at the performance viewed. What struck me most about the audience was the strong individual responses to different parts of the show. One woman sobbed along with the description of a newborn child, others shed tears for the invisibility that comes with advanced age. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t cackle with laughter – whether at a cheesy pun or the familiarity of a failed pick up line.
Greenway has a way of making the most personal of stories cut straight to your heart. On stage he’s incredibly charming with his wonder at the world, lightly peppered with self-deprecation. He’s romantic but not twee; his stories pack a punch. The way the city ate the stars is a charming yarn from an endearing player.
Pictured top: Shoeless singers and storyteller Kathryn Langshaw (left) Conor Greenway (right) and Will Greenway (centre).