Writer: Wil Greenway
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
Wil Greenway’s 2015 Edinburgh show,For The Ground That Grew Mewas a rag-tag collection of earthy anecdotes about his Australian upbringing. 2016’sThe Way The City Ate The Starscaptures the same irreverent, hippie wistfulness, but tells a more coherent, concentrated story of unrequited love, irreplaceable loss and the small consolations all around us.
Backed by the soft melodies of Will Galloway (guitar) and Kathryn Langshaw (vocals), Greenway transports his audience back in time and halfway around the world to tell an elegant, poignant story about his pregnant childhood sweetheart, her good-for-nothing boyfriend, her widowed uncle Sven, and one bizarre, event-filled Antipodean Christmas.
With a scruffy beard, a man-bun, a soft Aussie accent and a beaming smile, Greenway is captivating in a gentle, unobtrusive way. He doesn’t strain to find meaning in his story, nor does he appear to take its telling particularly seriously, and it is this friendly nonchalance that endears him to his audience most. He’s impossible not to like.
And his diffuse, poetic writing, which dives down obscure rabbit holes and tumbles over itself with playful descriptive passages, is remarkable evocative. He creates scene after vivid scene: two cars, driving side by side across the yawning Australian south; a hot summer’s evening in Melbourne, with fairy lights twinkling overhead and the heady scent of pine needles cloying the air; Uncle Sven’s face, weathered and withered with age. He even manages to find an ethereal beauty in a car crash.
The Way The City Ate The Starsdoesn’t pack much of a punch, but it envelopes you like a warm hug and holds you there for hours afterwards. It’s a soulful, engrossing, nourishing hour of offbeat yarn-spinning, softly delivered by one of the most charming storytellers at the Fringe.
Runs until Sunday 28August 2016