Review by Ellis Koch Garry Starr - Greece Lightning is a quick, comedic, one-man romp through the notable mentions of Greek mythology. With a liberal and clever use of props (that no doubt resulted in an upsurge in two-dollar shop sales), audience interaction, music and song parody, writer/performer Damien Warren-Smith manages to present a deliberately tacky comedy that makes some amusing, albeit occasionally tenuous connections to its source materials.
Sprinkled with forced jokes, Warren-Smith relies on deliberately mispronounced words and a strong rapport with his audience to pull off what might be, in a lesser performer’s hands, a total failure. Luckily for his audience, Warren-Smith has the skill and charm to keep things interesting in spite of the low-brow material. Please though, don't mistake my words as a disparagement - it takes a clever man to make idiocy entertaining and Warren-Smith has crafted in Garry Starr an earnest though idiotic character. It is the earnestness that sells the material which is often comprised of old comedic tricks such as lagged sound effect gags, clownish repetition and the generally unspoken wink between performer and audience that acknowledges how cheap everything happening before them is. It is dinner theatre without the three-course meal or extortionist price. Song parody, nudity and audience participation are plentiful and these sorts of things generally go over well with audiences. But there is intelligence in the connections between the execution of each gag and the Greek mythology material that elevates the cheap laugh into something more palatable. A throwaway gag about "Steakholders" uses dog chew toys and connects to the Cyclops at a later part in the show, water sprayed from audience members keeps Poseidon moist as he recites Disney's "Under the Sea" as a dramatic monologue, Medusa sheds her Snakes Alive and the recurring vignettes of Hercules are delightfully silly. There is also a somewhat eye-catching rendition of John Williamson's "Rip Rip Woodchip" which is unforgettable and could potentially change your views on climate change . . .
I have to admit that this sort of show is not really my usual cup of tea but Warren-Smith knows how to make it all work so I found even my own cynical self having a chuckle along the way. As a fan of Greek mythology I appreciated the references and connections and, as someone who has done a stint or two in dinner theatre, I appreciated the approach of Warren-Smith in his delivery as this style of comedy certainly has its audiences and provides a much-needed silliness and playfulness in an industry and a world that oft-times takes itself too seriously. And while the show itself is deliberately “dumb” this is due to the character of Garry Starr, not the writing or performance of Warren-Smith who is clearly a skilled performer and a clever writer who has invested a decent amount of thought and energy into crafting this piece.
If you're looking for some light entertainment during the comedy festival and don't mind audience interaction or nudity then you'll find yourself in good company with Garry Starr - Greece Lightning.