Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: Willing Participant

Storytelling at its most delightfulness told by a consummate performer

Storytelling at its most delightfulness told by a consummate performer

Presented by: Bravewords

Reviewed: 16 February, 2024

Let’s just cut straight to the chase: Willing Participant is a wonderfully delightful way to spend an hour.

If you haven’t heard the name Rob Carlton or seen his face before, then you probably don’t watch television – it would be hard to name an Australian series that he hasn’t been in. Two of his most notable achievements would have to be writing and starring in the comedy series Chandon Pictures and winning the 2012 Silver Logie Award for his portrayal of Kerry Packer in Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo. Despite all this, Carlton comes across as a very humble person.

He is the consummate storyteller – with a twinkle in his eye, a cheeky smile and such a friendly persona that one feels immediately as if he is an old friend from way back.

In Willing Participant, Carlton immerses the audience with four stories from his past. The first humorously (with a nice touch of poignancy) examines familial boundaries: the second, a very funny account of how one can BS their way through a situation if needs be; the third, a very beautiful and poignant story relating to his father and revisiting the past; and finally, a hilarious tale about auditioning for Muriel’s Wedding the Musical.

With the aid of Darren Gilshenan’s energetic but nicely parred back direction and Carlton’s wonderful warmth and geniality, the show just glides along. There is a charm about Carlton and this production that one rarely sees during the Fringe nowadays. Even though he is addressing an audience, such is his grasp of performing and storytelling, that one feels that he is addressing them and only them.

Be a willing participant, and try to catch this little Fringe gem – it’s only here for two weeks.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey

Photo credit: supplied

Venue: Holden Street Theatres – The Arch
Season: 16 Feb – 1 March 2024
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $25 – $30

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