Richard Fry is now a regular visitor to the Adelaide Fringe, and a very welcome and popular one. People spoke about his last two shows, Bully and Smiler, for a long time after and they are already talking about this new one. Fry just gets better and better and his latest work is a real winner and, like the earlier two, his powerful poetry, filled with marvellous imagery, adds another level again to his performance.
There is wit, humour, imagination and and enormous depth of understanding and empathy in his writing, and this piece demands a very deft touch. It looks a surviving young gay suicide and Fry's tale is of a young man named after his Grandfathers, John and Wayne. John Wayne is a rather quiet and withdrawn boy, unlike his sister who excels at school and goes on to a successful career. One day he is hit by a bus, and that is where this tale of hope begins as, chastised by a nurse and inspired by a mountain climber with no legs, he turns his life around and dedicates himself to preventing others taking the same path that he had been on.
Fry has the audience swinging between belly laughs and tears, to and fro, time and again as he weaves his tale, presenting options, showing opportunities and drawing vivid mental pictures of a positive future for all that, if only we all tried, seems so surprisingly easy to achieve. Fry has amazing insight into the human psyche and fresh and exciting approach to making people think, questioning their own attitudes.
This is an exceptional piece and it is hard to imagine anybody but Fry doing it because he invests himself so much in it and has such a wonderfully unique way of delivering the tale that simply captivates everybody, to the point that they feel that they almost know the people in his narrative.
He is taking this production to a few schools while he is here but it is a pity that everybody cannot see this. Videos of his shows should be shown and discussed in schools and universities everywhere as they could do a great deal of good.
Do try to get tickets for this performance as you will be moved, uplifted, enlightened and, I suspect, want to see it again, then wonder why there is no local branch of the Unbeatable Hearts.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Higher Ground, 9-15 Light Square, Adelaide
Season: To 18th March 2012
Tickets: $19 to $21
Bookings: FringeTix 1300-FRINGE (1300 374 643), FringeTix outlets, or online