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Wil Greenway: Either Side of Everything review

| Comedy, Festivals, Theatre | 09/08/2018

Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 15.14.32
Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Wil Greenway delivers more warm and engaging storytelling, but loses something in this style experiment. 

Over the past few years, a Wil Greenway show has virtually guaranteed a charming, poetic experience filled with passion and laughter.  This year’s iteration, Either Side of Everything, is ultimately no exception but something seems to have been lost in the Australian’s experiment towards comedy and multiple storylines.

Beginning with the former, Greenway told us last month that his decision to list in the Fringe’s comedy – rather than theatre – section had proved controversial with his partner and onstage singer, Kathryn Langshaw.  On this evidence, it seems her concerns may have been well-founded.  While there are a greater quantity of jokes here than in his previous shows – an early gag about the Tories signing the way – laughter levels never really rise to high hilarity and some of the emotion Greenway normally injects into his material absconds along the way.

That’s surprising given the nature of the stories, four strands linking into one: Michael and Heath’s car journey, Margot’s dog burial, Brian the bug’s life and a dream about a flooding house.  Each are pregnant with emotion: explicit through the first two, clear only during the final push of delivering the latter pair.  And overlaying all of them is a message geared towards sentiment: that we’re not around for long, so we should make the most of each day.  But after a slow start, expected feelings blur as you find yourself hopping between plots and trying to anticipate how they intertwine – a process Greenway acknowledges by purposely leading his audience down dead ends.

Additionally, that same process risks distract some from luxuriating in Greenway’s love of language, a calling card remaining printed as clearly as ever in this show.  Few performers switch so readily between poetic prose and no-nonsense syntax, evident often in this show and especially when concluding a sadder section with a gruff instruction to “cover it over as I’m a bit buggered and need to go to bed.”  In such moments, Greenway truly does excel.

There are many other moments of entertainment – inevitable given Greenway’s warmth and twinkly-eyed humour, and the melodic contributions of Langshaw and Will Galloway – while you walk away reassured by his sign-off that “we’ve got time for whatever we want”.  But unless he takes that time to increase laughter count or find greater levels of emotion during the Edinburgh run, Either Side of Everything won’t comprise the best example of what this unique performer can achieve.

Wil Greenway is performing ‘Either Side of Everything’ every day (except 13th) at 14.50 in the Dexter room of Underbelly Bristo Square (tickets here).  Follow him on Twitter @wilgreenway.  Review date: 4th August 2018.

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