On Richard Fry's first trip to Perth's Fringe world, he brings the incredible story of John Wayne in The Ballad of the Unbeatable Hearts. His 60 minute performance is delivered in rhyming couplets with both the vehemence and passion of a motivational speaker and also the sensitivity of a talented actor.
Playing all characters in the inspirational tale of a young, gay man who survived an attempt to take his own life and go on to systematically change the future for thousands of people worldwide, Fry reaches out to the audience and shares each character with enough depth to paint a vivid picture.
While you may be forgiven at the beginning for thinking that Fry is simply recounting history, it is finally revealed to be a work of fiction based on tragic statistics. The Ballad is not such an unrealistic story though, and decidedly better than the alternative – "What becomes of the broken hearted?"
This could certainly be called a "tear jerker" but I found my eyes pricking not at the moments when he told of the tragic end for young, gay people who'd committed suicide, but during the moments when he was daring us to live. The strongest message was to love, forgive, accept, run, strive, believe and achieve our way to the grave. To live as though we matter is one of the messages I took from the performance.
In a world of increasingly passive communication techniques, one of the greatest gifts we can give is connection. Fry achieved that with The Ballad of the Unbeatable Hearts. It is a universal truth that humans feel the need to belong, and without that, the sense of loneliness can be overwhelming. This performance may move you to action; it is Fry's hope that is the case. A worksheet that he hands out at the end of the show is filled with scribblings of the text we've just heard, checklists of good deeds and links to information we can use to take further steps on the journey we began as audience members.
Guy Masterson – Theatre Tours International presents
The Ballad of the Unbeatable Hearts
Venue: Perth Town Hall | Cnr Hay Street & Barrack Street Perth
Dates: 13 – 18 Feb 2012