A Night to Dismember – Auckland Fringe Festival


The sweaty, sticky odour of different types of cheese in space. Red and brown globs of blood and pus dripping over the sandy beach. Ball shaped grapes. A talking asteroid named Jimmy who becomes the life of the party, and an armless, befuddled chap named Wil.

This is only a portion of the abstract, boisterous and wide eyed narrative that streams out of Wil Greenway’s imagination. It’s this surrealistic mindset that has birthed A Night to Dismember, his new one man show, fresh off an award winning run with two man act The Lounge Room Confabulators.

See, Mr. Greenway has a knack for telling magnificent stories that peak and valley with a vulnerability that only the most ADD riddled soda drinking teenager could muster. It is based around the time (he introduces many scenes with “You know those times when…”) his arms get eaten by a bully of a shark, the same shark who also ends up stealing his girlfriend. Normal stuff. After this dismemberment, Greenway goes on a magnificent journey through space and time to get some new arms, meeting new friends along the way, including a magical talking asteroid and a bike riding dingo. The point of it? Well, to prove himself as a man, and maybe find a new girlfriend and a good mate.

There are flashes of Graham Chapman in his performance, also Noel Fielding, and like the characters these men would sometimes play, there is almost a perennial twinkle in Greenway’s eye. He seems like a young boy telling his best mate a yarn about a strange dream. It’s gripping stuff, sometimes exhausting at how rapid the delivery can be, but at other times when he talks about a new found friendship, the story becomes quite sweet. For instance, when he isn’t allowed into a party because of his limbless awkwardness, you really feel for him.

It is the overcompensation, the complete out-thereness of the dialogue that emphasizes how vulnerable Greenway’s character really is, and how sometimes all a man needs is to be on the receiving end of some random kindness. At its core, Dismember works out to be a relatable antecedent, (once you wade through the thick of talking animals, food and gore) because once Greenway comes out of his shell and relishes in the more ‘normal’ moments of his psyche, like talking to his brother or father, he is nothing more than a slightly inadequate, innocent man-child wanting to impress family, girlfriends and his mates. He hardly ever comes out on top, but when it goes right for him, you really root for this fellow.

A Night to Dismember creates a world of reality askew, a place where you can make something out of nothing – which is what Greenway accomplishes in spades. A masterful comic performance, impeccably timed and created with a sweaty, ginger bearded fervor.

This is a tale of an affable nitwit who lives in an alternate Australian reality and learns some lessons about how to be a man. A man with arms made out of space cheese, but still, a man.

See A Night To Dismember at The Basement Theatre, Auckland until 2 March.