Review by Kate Gaul
There are some things you can’t unsee. Right? Gary Starr Performs Everything is one of those shows and I don’t mean that in a good way. I may be in the minority here, but I am definitely not the audience for 50+ minutes of a near naked man prancing onstage – ostensibly here to rescue theatre by demonstrating a range of genres complete with “audience participation”. He’s a bit like a performing poodle in an Elizabethan ruff, jumping to catch thrown grapes in his mouth.
Gary Starr is a character invented by performer comedian Damien Warren-Smith. The near-nakedness is a flimsy G-string. It is alarming. The Elizabethan ruff is impressive!
The conceit goes that Gary Starr was formerly employed by the RSC, expelled for “artistic differences”. He romps his way through Pinter, Noh and Buttoh, Ibsen, Chekhov, social realism and, of course, Shakespeare to reclaim his status. Any pretentiousness soon disappears under complete silliness and mostly had the audience screaming with laughter. The show moves through witty puns and commentary on theatre to physical comedy. Fringe audiences are generally “in the know" when it comes to self-referencing humour. We get all the references and feel smart in the process. Although idiotic there is a mountain of skill on display here. His “circus nouveau” routine of balance and acrobatics atop a small metal frame is impressive. Part masterclass, part stand-up comedy, part display of hard-won theatrical skill but mostly pretentious nonsense.
The audience participation is interesting. There is a feeling that Warren-Smith uses stooges rather than genuine punters. But it doesn’t really matter – let’s say everyone was very cooperative!
Is it not enough that theatre is riddled with energetic white male egos? What motivates Warren-Smith to have his dick out all night? Does he not trust his talent? Or is the show actually smarter than I give it credit? No, it’s a near naked man showing us his box of tricks. Grab a drink or two and prepare to be amazed!