#AdventuresInRetail: Returns Policy

Nerida Dickinson

Offbeat comedy in an offbeat venue; random musings shared with impish good humour.
#AdventuresInRetail: Returns Policy

At Fringe World 2016, Sabian Wilde brought #AdventuresInRetail to sold out audiences in the independent Kaleido bookshop at Perth Train Station. To popular acclaim, he delivered fast-paced recounting of his experiences and interactions with the infuriating queries of obtuse, odd and off-putting customers. After a career hiatus from the giddy heights of independent book retail, he brings his Returns Policy to Fringe World 2018.

Opening with a casual stroll through the bookshelves while singing a plaintive ode to his bookshop on his ukulele, he sits on the counter and explains his inability to tap into his internal wells of rage over the stupidity in his work life. While enjoying his customers being unfailingly intelligent, polite and considerate, it's led to a disturbing lack of material. Directing his ire towards another target, Wilde sells us advice on how to prosper as a self-help author. Dialling back his ranting, he despairs over the continued success of particular frauds and charlatans, sharing readings of excerpts from his conveniently handy books. Chapters are interspersed with analysis of the appeal of such quackery to vulnerable people and authors’ manipulation of the target audience in the genre. Cross-promotion of his book series, from self-help to psychology, emphasises these marketing tactics. Keeping matters light and moving along at a good pace, the readings are performed in diverse styles. Wilde convinces audience members to assist with scene changes, proving his points about manipulative authors.


In a smooth transition from his 'How to Be Betterer' books, Wilde reflects on his own personal anguish caused by overthinking. Exemplifying this difficulty, he presents how his love of music has been forever tarnished by his own songwriting past as he translates familiar lyrics from pop song to vernacular phrasing. Various popular songs are picked apart in disturbing, yet amusing fashion, using physical movements, contrasting lighting design and swift changes between a lovely light tenor and a snarling Strine flatness. As an aside, Wilde explores the arcane reproductive quirks of several animal species which then causes a detour into historical human anatomy naming and misinterpretations… flights of fancy that bring all the digressions together into an entertaining package.

Overcoming various technical challenges and opening night difficulties, Wilde succeeds with enthusiasm to entertain, share his slightly twisted world view and serve his customers and audience with careful and caring cleverness.

3 ½ stars

#AdventuresInRetail: Returns Policy
Presented by Mahbukkit Creative
Performed by Sabian Wilde
Kaleido Books & Gifts, Perth Train Station, Perth
5 – 11 February 2018
Part of Fringe World 2018

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.