Fringe Review: The Outsider

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By Tabitha Lean

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On a hot Saturday in Adelaide, it was a relief to walk down the stairs of The Rhino Room into Hell’s Kitchen – (ironically) an air conditioned, intimate, and grungy lounge, setting the stage for what would be a funny catch up with an old mate.

Having previously reviewed one of Greg Fleet’s highly scripted shows, I anticipated a polished and highly scripted performance. However, what unfolded in that small, cosy setting was far from scripted; it was a genuine, casual yarn among friends. An evening talking about addiction and recovery, the things we find funny, family, and life in general.

Only a seasoned performer like Greg Fleet, with his many years of experience, could effortlessly take to the stage in this very pared-back setting, with drink in hand, engage the audience as if we were all gathered at his BBQ, swapping stories and sharing laughs, while he casually flipped burger patties over the grill. There was an undeniable charm in the informal atmosphere he created, making us forget that we were the audience, and he was the performer.

While I had seen Fleet in The Twins, a show I rated quite highly for its scripting and bravery in lifting themes of identity, suicide, addiction and insecurity up to the light; this show took a different direction in its discussion on themes of addiction. With his trademark humour and non-confrontational casual approach, Fleet encouraged introspection, inviting the audience to reflect on their own struggles while sharing his own. Amidst the laughter, Fleet touched upon deeper topics, reminding us of the importance of happiness and the unexpected pockets we have to reach into to find it – whether it be our three-year old’s embarrassing blunders, or someone’s behaviour on the streets – he reminded us that there is joy in a sometimes bleak world.

In the only serious moment at the end of the show, after the laughter, Fleet took a moment to thank the South Australian Mental Health Commissioner for the support in putting the show on, and urged the audience to look out for one another, emphasizing the importance of supporting our friends through life’s challenges, reminding us that we never know what each other was going through. And I guess that is what this show is ultimately about.

Throughout the show we learnt of the addictions of the person sitting beside us. We learnt something about the stranger next to us – a battle they were fighting, had fought and lost, or fought and won. We learnt something that we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Fleet asking. So, this show reminded me to show kindness in all interactions, because I really never know what someone is battling.

He might not like it, but the reality is, Greg Fleet’s humanity shines brightly on stage, even in moments where humour takes centre stage. His ability to seamlessly blend comedy with heartfelt reflection is a testament to his skill as a performer. In a world often filled with scripted routines, Fleet’s intimate comedy feels like a breath of fresh air, reminding us of the power of genuine connection and shared experiences.

PS: still a Greg Fleet fan

4 stars

 

 

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