Adelaide Fringe

Smiler – Adelaide Fringe 2011

Presented by the Centre for International Theatre
Reviewed Wednesday 23rd February 2011

Venue: Art Base, Higher Ground, Light Square, Adelaide
Season: 7:30pm to 13 March 2011, no performance 28th Feb.
Duration: 60mins
Tickets: all tickets $23/group 6+ $20

If you saw Richard Fry’s Bully, then you probably already have tickets for his latest production. This is a very different piece, although still in the style of performance poetry and again based on his own experiences. This time we discover how a chance meeting and an awkward beginning can blossom into a deep and mutually rewarding friendship.

Fry stands and introduces himself as Jesus, quickly adding “not that one”, with a wry smile. He begins with an anecdote of attending a Rolling Stones tribute band concert with his friend Smiler and of how the audience were unresponsive until Smiler stood up to dance, and gradually everybody else joined in.

From there we go back to when he was working at a service station and an older woman, with whom he worked, invited him to a party. There, she introduced him to her son, Smiler. His opening words at that meeting were a serious faux pas but, by the end of the party, the embarrassing moment was forgotten and he and Smiler were getting along like a house on fire.

As Fry’s narrative continues we see them becoming inseparable friends and getting up to all of the sorts of things that a couple of likely lads are wont to do, like a night out at the pub and a secretive ‘spliff’. There is a twist or two in this tale, though, as you will discover when Jesus introduces you to Smiler, as well as when he explains his name. For that, you will need to see this superb production for yourself.

Richard Fry delicately blends pathos, humour, pain and joy in a bitter-sweet tale that is both moving and rewarding. He combines his striking poetic images with a committed performance that almosy overwhelms at times with its intensity. His portrayals of the two friends captivate both the imagination and emotions of the audience as well as challenging their perceptions. You will feel better, on many levels, for having seen this remarkable performance. This is yet another big winner from the CIT stables that you ought to see.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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