By S Mulvihill
A Night to Dismember is like a trip in Wil Greenway’s delirious hallucinations. A surreal and disquieting hour, Greenway’s gentle and almost sickly sweet delivery belies a gruesome story packed with gut churning imagery and an incredibly inventive narrative. The performance begins with our protagonist waking from a nightmare into a nightmarish existence after losing an arm three days earlier in a shark attack. His disgusted girlfriend promptly dumps him as she says he can’t come to her parties in case he upsets the other guests. In a stroke of unbelievable bad luck, he comes a cropper with the same shark later that day and loses his other arm. The shark, however, is not some primitive predator of the seas but a sentient and malicious personality who then steals his ex girlfriend.
This is only the start of things. The story writhes around as unpredictably as a trapped snake, with our narrator befriending an asteroid, a man with no legs and a beautiful German. With the main character being somewhat of an insecure anti-hero who grows with confidence the more that terrible things happen to him, this play is completely original and confounding. Greenway is a talented character actor and with its black and macabre humour there’s a lot to like in this piece. Indeed if you’re a fan of early Peter Jackson films, or (for a slightly more obscure reference) Bill Plimpton animations, this will be a treat. There are a few rough edges however: the lighting, or lack thereof, can at times impose on the action rather than compliment it. Greenway seems almost too reticent in the small venue to go fully to the extremes that his story really demands: it could have been far more polarised.
This is a curious show. Its imagination is remarkable, though at times unsettling. There are good touches, like Greenway’s costume of shorts and child’s beach poncho and a giant inflatable shark that should feature more, if only by the virtue that there is a giant inflatable shark in the show at all. For such a tall tale the performance could have been a deal bigger, but there is a lot of talent on display. After more performances and some fine tuning I suspect we can expect great things.