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The Ballad of the Unbeatable Hearts

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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It's hard to believe that this optimistic and life-affirming new one-man play by Fringe stalwart Richard Fry has gay teen suicide as its theme. Using rhyming couplets throughout, Fry slowly recounts the gripping story of a young, withdrawn suicide survivor's miraculous transformation into the leader of a movement for good around the world, revelling in both the inherent kindness and generosity of the human heart, and the transformational power of language.

His tale may be idealistic, but celebrating potential is what Fry's heart-warming offering is all about. He enjoys the contradictions between his rough, laddish exterior and the fragile emotions he expertly conveys through his delivery, and the tears he sheds at the play's overwhelming conclusion are real.

Staging and lighting are simple but effective, and the play's structure and pacing are secure and convincing: Fry drip feeds his audience little nuggets of information throughout the course of the piece, which makes the play's final revelations all the more shattering. He's an exceptionally gifted performer, and his reminder to us that we all have the potential for great things has never been more timely.

- David Kettle


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