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Review: Beers about Songs

Adelaide Fringe

Singer-songwriter Ryan Wells’ songs about drinking strike a disturbingly familiar chord. ★★★

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Excessive drinking. Dysfunctional relationships. Domestic violence. This is a trilogy to whet the appetite, and in his single-man show, Ryan “Adam” Wells and his electric-acoustic guitar finger pick their way through a cathartic narrative.

Big of stature and big of voice, Wells, a self-proclaimed “life-long nerd”, has one resonant theme: life is short and love matters. Exactly where that love lies, though, is something for us to ponder in this church of beer.

With wine-barrel tables, lounge chairs, couches and crates, the beer garden setting at The Producers suits tales of drinking adventures. However, the tone is melancholy and the content disturbingly familiar: the sweetly comfortable joy of drinking segues seamlessly to dangerously comfortable.

In a curious mix of Tim Minchin and The Hangover, North American Wells warbles his way through his early 20s. Delivery can be face-paced while the narrative is sombre; reflection is the dominant emotive mechanism. Audience members are challenged to review their own attitudes and behaviours, and the relevance of this show is all too obvious in a society where the situations sung about are far too common.

Is this an important show? Yes. The bigger question, though, is one of entertainment; the juxtaposition of beer as friend and beer as foe is an uncomfortable one.

Musically, Ryan Wells is strong and his collection of original songs does strike a resonant chord. At six foot four, he presents an imposing figure, yet this is dwarfed by the reality of his Beers about Songs.

Three stars

Beers about Songs is being presented at The Producers until March 13.

 

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