Wil Greenway: These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone

Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Darcy Rollins

at 13:37 on 20th Aug 2017

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This is a story with a dash of audience participation, fluttering harmonies and a soft guitar. Wil Greenway weaves the tale of Ernie where nothing too remarkable occurs for the most part of story and yet I was still drawn in. Greenway creates pretty, lyrical, gentle renditions of everyday neuroses and disasters. In a Fringe where some shows are loud and seemingly determined, rightly or wrongly, to amalgamate as many different things as possible, this show is refreshing in its simplicity and earnestness, but it did have the potential to be cloying for the wrong audience. It is so very earnest and sweet. Greenway treats Ernie his “invisible friend” with so much sympathy suddenly you too feel for this imaginary figure.

But for all the sweetness, there was more than a hint of truth and insight in this show. In one of the most accurate descriptions of loneliness I have ever encountered in art, Greenway says that “Ernie lives in a world without words”. This sort of unpretentious, straight-forward poetry is ever-present in Greenway’s story.This poetry is accentuated by how Greenway moves, sweeping his arms to show a rush of movement or holding an imaginary droplet of rain and showing its descent to the ground. Just like Greenway’s self-deprecation, the story has just the right amount of humour to balance the more sentimental moments.“Eyes do that public transport thing. They meet up and then dart away like frightened fish,” says Greenway, enacting the fish speeding away with his hands.

I was moved when he spoke about a certain idea of “memory”, memory as access to a another life. He spoke of the little triggers, of the sights and smells, that will bring you back, probably to something you still long for. When Greenway said, “All this moments are stacked up and ready to go”, I pictured the catalogue of such triggers I have, and we all have. I must admit that I was a little taken back for a show so seemingly sweet to have this kind of punch.

“That’s why they call me the international bad-boy of whimsical story-telling”. Greenway is well-aware of the kind of show this is and this is part of the show’s charm. While his description of memory has stuck with me, the rest, while lovely, did not say much to me at all. I would recommend this show to anyone feeling a little low. The story is painted intricately by Greenway, enhanced by the music of Kathryn Langhsaw and Wil Galloway, and you leave feeling enveloped by his warm charm.

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Amaris Proctor

at 13:42 on 20th Aug 2017

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If you allow this piece to disrupt your cynical and jaded impulses, this stretch of storytelling can leave a warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach. It’s intensely earnest, meaning you do have to be susceptible to a certain sentimental charm to give yourself over to the experience. The performers themselves appear to be self-aware of this, conscious that the piece would crumble to dust if it didn’t appeal so powerfully to the audience’s emotional venerability.

The cutting bluster of Edinburgh’s winds intensifies the warmth within the classroom-turned-theatre, which envelopes and feeds the intimacy of Wil Greenway’s poignant storytelling. A set comprising of nothing more than a couple of chairs against an acutely black background may sound barren. However, the triumphant blend of the physical and whimsical creativity of Greenway’s performance fills every pore of space in the venue. Atmospheric tricks like inventive uses of lighting serve to accentuate the performance-driven production. However, they often feel non essential. It is the imaginative acting which causes you to forget an August in Edinburgh in favour of an Autumn in Australia.

The central performer, Wil Greenway, is bright-eyed and full of vim and vigour. You could palpably feel the audience being drawn in by his seeming spontaneity, as he made an informal quip about the noisy air conditioner. Every time he garbles a line, he turns it into an invitation for the viewer to connect with the organic “human experience, you guys”. Vulnerability, nakedness, and fleshy weakness are what he celebrates. His boisterous and well-timed comedic moments are built upon the tender ones, like when he uses an imaginary hanky to wipe imaginary blood off an audience member’s face.

Above all else, however, the piece thrives upon the aural. The melodies of Kathyrn Landshaw and Will Galloway are interwoven into his narrative, which itself has a lyrical quality which almost makes it seem like a 60 minute version of a folk-indie song. The stride of Greenway’s rhythm seems to evolve around lavish similes and sibilance, strewn with rhymes which seem almost incidental. While at times the linguistic summersaults felt overdone, at others the relish with which they were spoken lent them a real beauty.

Ultimately, this love story is infected with the “romantic bacteria” it describes. It’s beguiling, but richly over-saturated in a way which might make you a bit sick if it lasted longer than an hour. So, while if you have a taste for edge this isn’t for you, if you’re feeling affectionate towards the hippy-dippy and sincere, this is immensely pleasurable.

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