Garry Starr Performs Everything

Wed 1st – Sun 26th August 2018


India Greenland

at 09:59 on 12th Aug 2018



'Garry Starr Performs Everything' is an explosive tour through “every” theatre genre – and an absolute delight. This was the first show I’ve been to this Fringe that's earned belly-laughs without pause, and it’s soon obvious why this show has done so well. Covering musical theatre, rom-com, Shakespeare, melodrama, the art of masks and much more, the hour Damien Warren-Smith as Garry Starr spends performing is not only amazingly entertaining and fun for the audience, but it also seems like he’s having a brilliant time himself. The absolute mash up that this show is is epitomised by Starr’s first outfit of a ruff, a leather jacket and some leggings – an eclectic mix.

Eccentric and wild, there are definitely some shocking moments in this show, including Warren-Smith’s less-than-fully-clothed performances. I wouldn’t recommend this show for the easily offended, but for an hour of fast moving, exciting and hilariously funny performing, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Starr, just dismissed from the Royal Shakespeare Company and ready to “save” theatre, takes every mini performance wonderfully seriously. Despite this, the genres he attempts to present are rendered ridiculous, whether it’s his nipple-tassled burlesque dance (ending with the audience throwing grapes into his mouth) or a circus performed on miniature apparatus. However, the moments of silliness are matched by truly genius comedy at some points too, and you can see why acclaimed comedy director Cal McCrystal deserves his praise.

Despite the fact that the genres are ‘spoofed’, Warren-Smith still shows himself to be an incredibly talented performer, actually making contemporary pop music sound like Shakespeare quite successfully. Besides how impressive the constant shifts in genre are, it also makes for a riotous show that never fails to excite.

The audience reception was enough to see that this show was a huge success; everyone left smiling and laughing, shocked and amazed at what they had just witnessed. For once in a show, everyone seemed keen to get involved as volunteers on the stage; this willingness is testament to how engaging the show was.

Starr says at the beginning his wish is to “save” theatre. While I don’t believe it needs fixing, if you’ve been having any doubts about theatre’s ability to thrill and entertain, this is the show for you.


Siobhan Stack-Maddox

at 10:05 on 12th Aug 2018



Having been dismissed from the Royal Shakespeare company, Damien Warren-Smith's Garry Starr sets himself a simple challenge: "to save theatre". 'Garry Starr Performs Everything' sweeps the audience away on a whirlwind tour through theatrical history and fourteen genres of performance. It's an exhilarating and unpredictable ride.

Warren-Smith is simply hilarious, and incredibly sharp. There's intellectual humour as well as totally ridiculous physical comedy, dance and gymnastics. For theatre-lovers or literature students like me, the references across theatrical history and Warren-Smith's repeated mispronunciations of names and technical terms ("juxtaprosition") are extremely amusing, and provide a self-deprecating commentary on pretentious theatre stereotypes. I loved the Pinter sketch involving an audience member, centred around the importance of the infamous "pause" in his work. Since "any Tom, Dick or Cumberbatch can make Shakespeare contemporary" , Warren-Smith asserts that the real skill lies in making the contemporary Shakespearean. His delivery of pop hits, including Britney Spears's '...Baby One More Time', in a Simon Callow-esque Shakespearean style, has the audience in fits of laughter. But even if you're not a theatre buff, Warren-Smith's physical comedy and pure silliness will have you in stitches. I challenge you not to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of Starr's dance numbers, particularly the ballet sketch, which sees him gallivanting across the stage, sporting only a Shakespearean ruff and thong.

Warren-Smith's witty banter with his audience is also hysterical. A key part of his tactics to save theatre is getting the audience involved. There's a slapstick sketch, in which Warren-Smith and an increasing number of audience members actually slap each other with sticks (well, foam poles) in time to Paul Simon 'The Boxer'. Warren-Smith feeds audience members grapes during a burlesque number early in the show, which escalates in a later romantic comedy sketch, when he takes pieces of spaghetti in his mouth and makes audience members share them. It is purely farcical, and the audience looks unsurprisingly terrified as Warren-Smith scans the audience looking for his next "volunteer".

This show certainly isn't for the easily offended. Given that Warren-Smith spends a ballet number sporting only a thong, when he suddenly gets totally naked whilst demonstrating mask theatre it's not as outrageous as you'd expect. For some audience members, Warren-Smith's efforts to break with all theatrical convention went a bit too far and the shock factor, for me, is not really necessary given the strength of Warren-Smith's performance.

In combing the highbrow with the clown-like and ludicrous, Warren-Smith draws attention to the artistry and craft of performance, proving that theatre certainly isn't stuffy but alive and vibrant. Showcasing Warren-Smith's genuine and infectious passion for theatre, this sell-out show is outrageous, ingenious and utterly uproarious. If something can save theatre, 'Garry Starr Performs Everything' might well be it.


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