Jesus recounts the story of their friendship in rhyming verse and the poetry feels natural in the mouth of writer and performer, Richard Fry. It is only Fry’s occasional forays into the realm of glibness – a consequence of an overly dutiful adherence to the rhyme scheme – that disturbs the flow of the piece.
Fry's performance is disarmingly honest and committed - Smiler was inspired by the actor’s real life friendship with a young man living with a head injury, and the truth of his feeling is palpable.
one-person plays are merely plot-free character studies, this piece has proper
narrative drive and the capacity to surprise its audience. Fry makes a couple
of strange choices – Jesus’s back story feels like it has been crow-barred in for
no discernable reason – but overall Smiler hits the mark.