Wil Greenway: the way the city ate the stars

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Charlotte Thomas

at 09:18 on 13th Aug 2016

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How do you tell the story of one day in just an hour? A whole day in which different lives intertwine, intersect and collide – each with their backstories, quirks…the things which make them human. In ‘The Way the City Ate the Stars’, the three-hander cast of Wil Greenway and musicians Will Galloway and Kathryn Langshaw do just this – beautifully, simply and elegantly.

The story broadly follows a day in Wil’s life, although he is far from the focal point of the story. It would be devastatingly unfair of me to reveal too much of the plot (if any at all), so I will not dwell on the narrative. This is because the realisations you have as an audience member along the thread of the tale are placed in such a way that you are constantly engaged with the piece, and I would not want to ruin that. Suffice it to say my attention was well and truly held, from start to finish.

The set is simple, but not stark, helping to lend to the feeling of familiarity with the performers which is fostered over the performance. A black backdrop, two high black chairs and soft lighting is all that is employed. The sound levels are perfectly balanced meaning that the accompanying sections of song are truly an integral part of the piece, instead of drowning words out or not being audible. The clothes are simple and do not detract from the people wearing them – their talent can shine through unhampered and I must commend the director and producer (Kellie Tori and Nick James Clark respectively) for this and all the aforementioned choices.

I cannot fault any of the three performers. In an incredibly intricate and wonderfully expressive script (performed by Greenway), Galloway and Langshaw do not miss a single cue, often for just a few bars of accompaniment. Nonetheless, had these few bars been missed, the entire flow of the piece would have been compromised, so essential is the music to the spoken performance. Furthermore, their faces are always turned towards Greenway (stood inbetween them), meaning focus is never anywhere Greenway does not want it to be. Galloway and Langshaw’s beautifully gentle and subtle voices complement each-other and the piece sublimely, and their words and melodies fit into the performance seamlessly, with poignancy and gentle humour.

Greenway himself is one of the most masterful storytellers I have ever seen. Simple, fluid and exquisitely placed gestures, intonation and imagery made for a world I truly believed and felt for. I cannot recommend seeing this show enough. It is a stunning piece of theatre.

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Grace Calvert

at 09:53 on 13th Aug 2016

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It is easy to become tense at the Edinburgh Fringe. The hustle and bustle of the Mile becomes draining, as is the constant stress over choosing the shows with which to fill your precious days. 'Wil Greenway: The Way the City Ate the Stars' is the perfect cure, trading in rainy Edinburgh for sunny Melbourne and hypnotic storytelling.

It is a bit like having a massage. The show relaxes you and warms your soul. That sounds slightly sensual, but I assure you that this is pure, wholesome storytelling at its best. It is rare that as an adult you get a story recited to you, and for that this production is a treat. The show is written by its performer, and Greenway deftly weaves images through his words. The story opens on Christmas Eve where Wil, who places himself within the narrative, falls head over heels for a beautiful woman. The same night she runs off with her ex-boyfriend, who appears dressed as Father Christmas. From there the lives of these three are entwined, as well as the heart-breaker of the fiction, Uncle Sven, and a small green bird.

It is Greenway’s charisma which holds the piece together. One cannot help smiling at him as he darts around stage barefoot, clearly enthralled to be there. The languid poetry of the story feels natural coming from him where it could feel so awkward from others. He is also able to render the audience totally at ease, confidently controlling the mood of the room. The atmosphere of the play is so relaxed that when the man I am sitting next to starts coughing, Greenway strolls to the back to give him a glass of water.

On stage Greenway is joined by Will Galloway and Kathryn Langshaw, who perform original songs, singing along to a guitar. They flank Greenway on either side, and it almost feels like being sat round a campfire. The songs are sweet and sometimes humorous, though they seem slightly wasted within the production. It would have been nice to see something slightly more interesting than the simple chord progressions and folksy tunes they play.

This is a thoroughly charming production, bringing a bit of Aussie sunshine to the Fringe.

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