Duane Forrest’s ‘Climb’ offers a little under an hour of escape from the chaos of the Fringe. Sitting atop a spot-lit stool in the centre of Zoo’s studio space is Duane. A charismatic man, with a great smile which he mentions was passed on from his mother; the show is decorated with sweet moments and reflections such as this making the theatre Duane’s entirely for 45 minutes, his home almost, and it feels unmistakably inviting.
Duane journeys through stories from his life, effortlessly sliding back and forth between spoken and sung word, but constantly moved along by guitar driven rhythm (which does, at times pause, placing an emphasis on what is being said). The story, for the most part, is tight, with anecdotes at the beginning being planted as seeds to later grow and shine through towards the end. The stories about the women Duane has met throughout his life are cheesy at times, often triggering the next song.
At the heart of this production is a touching delve into the problem of male mental health. Duane is not heavy handed with it, he admires the relationship a group of Italian men have with each other which in turn casts a spotlight on his own situation, and how having positive male figures to talk to and share with is paramount to moving forwards and having a healthy life. Duane's willingness to include the audience in this self reflection is touching, and the music (which is always sublime) silkily moves between genre adding further layers to what is being said.
With beautiful music, a little audience participation, and a lot of smiling, one would be hard pressed not to enjoy ‘Climb’.
Climb runs 8-11th, 15-20th, 22-27th August at Zoo Southside.