Sunday, June 4, 2023

Garry Starr Performs Everything

Garry Starr Performs Everything - Damien Warren-Smith.  Presented by Milke at The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, June 3 2023.

Reviewed by Frank McKone

Producer Milke - Laura Milke Garner
Performer/Creator – Damien Warren-Smith

Director – Cal McCrystal.

WINNER - Emerging Artist, Adelaide Fringe 2018 Weekly
WINNER - Tour Ready Award, Adelaide Fringe 2018
WINNER - Best Comedy, Manchester Fringe 2018
WINNER - Best Physical Theatre & Circus, Sydney Fringe 2022

You would think by now, on tour in prestigious Queanbeyan (Australia), Garry Elizabeth Starr could not still be the “disgraced actor” who “has decided that the performing arts are dying and he is just the man to save them” after such a history of being a WINNER – and having just flashed his Greece Lightning at this year’s even more prestigious Melbourne Comedy Festival, where he performed “all of Greek mythology in order to save his Hellenic homeland from economic ruin” – also a WINNER Best in Fest 2022 Gothenburg Fringe.

But believing “theatre is dying” and having struggled for much of his life to stick at anything” (except slapstick, as he demonstrated with five audience members tonight), “Garry is our only hope”.  He succeeds in brilliantly saving at least 13 kinds of theatre from themselves, making them all the butt of uproarious laughter – very much in the literal sense.  I suggest, though, that he should not endeavour to tour Uganda right now.

To write a series of spoilers about how Garry Starr treats genres like Romantic Comedy, the latest European minimalist theatre focussing on the emotions by stripping out the dialogue or, say, the Australian penchant for physical theatre, would be unethical in a review, since it is the element of the unexpected that makes the show work so well.  And, in any case, his extensive employment of members of the audience relies on the real actor behind the character having improvisation skills extraordinaire – as Warren-Smith has to the umpth degree.

His disciplined skills as a performer showed particularly in the segment on Japanese Noh and Butoh.  His satire of the Butoh Body on the Edge of Crisis (see the trailer at  of the Michael Blackwood 1990 production) required the very skills he makes fun of; just as true as for his Cirque du Nouveau sequence.

However much a continuing failure Garry Starr is, is the measure of the continuing and I suspect developing success Damien Warren-Smith is.

The trip all the way to Queanbeyan was well worth it – especially for the Royal Hotel special offer of a free glass of house beer or wine with dinner before the show.  No joke!