“If this is not the show you are looking for then go out, it’s out there somewhere,” says Wil Greenway at the close of These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone. “I’m sorry if you didn’t like the show, we tried our best.” This is not my show and I didn’t like it. But I also know that they – they being Greenway and indie folk duo Kathryn Langshaw and Will Galloway – tried their best and that this most certainly someone’s show and they will love it. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you think I’m being cynical or unfair. Maybe I am. But these people were kind to me and I want to reciprocate, hoping that I can help them find their audience. Call me Cupid, why don’t you?
Technically, this show is well-crafted. Greenway, Langshaw and Galloway are clearly talented performers, Greenway taking the main brunt of storytelling whilst Langshaw and Galloway add songs and sounds to give dimension to the storyworld, as well as having a few choice lines themselves. A gentle bear of a man, Greenway is an accomplished and precise performer, delivering moments of genuine surprise and complex lines of dialogue that weave people and places so vividly that set design is redundant – which is lucky, as they’ve got the black box of a sauna that is the Underbelly Clover to contend with.
There are scant but welcome moments of awareness in the storytelling, my favourite being Greenway bearing a brightly coloured lamp more befitting of a lighthouse or natural disaster in the pitch black, whispering, “Guys, I’m afraid we’ve found ourselves in a dream sequence.” It is a nice story, a rarity in these times. The plot points are magically mundane. A waiter throws up. A mouse gets in. A man walks the long way home. But two people are brought together after a distance in time and space, for the better.
Right from the beginning however, when the trio gaze openly and lovingly into the audience, introducing each other and their respective heights, the sincerity tips into sentimentality. There’s no journey or build if the destination is announced at every opportunity. Themes of memory, time, shared human experience are all valid but, for me, they lose something in their high gloss presentation here. Sweetness can easily tip into sickliness if not doled out in the right dose and detailed writing can capsize and be drowned in purple. But it’s not to say they didn’t try or that they won’t hit the bullseye of someone’s soul. Just not mine.
Wil Greenaway’s These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone runs until 27th August at Underbelly Med Quad, 16:10.