Review: Garry Starr’s Greece Lightning – Spiegeltent Wollongong (NSW)

Presented by Damien Warren-Smith

In an hour of sublime silliness, comedian and clown Damien Warren-Smith as the self-described “overzealous idiot” Garry Starr attempts to perform all of Greek mythology to save his homeland Greece from economic ruin.

Dressed in nothing but a white fustanella (short Greek skirt), some cartoonishly yellow lightning nipple covers and an Elizabethan ruff, Garry Elizabeth Starr took to the stage to the sweet sounds of “Greased Lightnin’.” Handing out “ZAP!” signs to members of the audience as he gyrated, yelling and gesticulating wildly to get them to hold them up as he threw lightning bolts a la Zeus, we were doomed (blessed?) to participate from the start.

With endless energy and unrelenting enthusiasm, Starr made the smaller Wollongong crowd feel like a full house of cacklers.

Starr then lamented to us the woes of recent Greek financial ruin, handing out more props, fake beef steaks, and “Kalamári” greetings as he went. Spoonerisms and malapropisms galore made for an erratic, fast-paced initiation into the chaos that you couldn’t help but get swept up in. With endless energy and unrelenting enthusiasm, Starr made the smaller Wollongong crowd feel like a full house of cacklers.

Smaller bits like Starr ripping apart various fruits and vegetables to a recording of “HERCULES!” gave us well-timed breathing breaks for extended explorations of various Greek myths. One unfortunate audience member was roped into a “Who’s on First” style sketch, insisting that Athena, no, she hadn’t seen her! The story of Achilles was performed in the style of German expressionist film (to give the tragedy proper weight), Medusa wore a bike helmet filled with jelly snakes that flew across the stage to Duke Dumont’s “Red Light, Green Light”, and Poseidon gave a heart-felt spoken word performance of The Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea”.

In a masterclass in audience participation, Starr recruited two audience members as his “limited” Greek chorus. They then donned black plastic capes, one unfortunately stolen at the Adelaide Fringe, and white masks and performed an increasingly hilarious rendition of the full four minutes of “Zorba the Greek”. Warren-Smith’s commitment and precise movement skill was extremely evident and even funnier next to Ben from the back row who kept looking back at him for guidance. I laughed so hard that tears and snot ran down my face.

The unexpectedly ridiculous final moments consisted of Starr being birthed through a red fabric screen, pants less but still be-ruffled. The lucky last audience member had to cut his umbilical cord as Starr and his sausage took their bows.

Warren-Smith’s invention is insanely clever and gloriously stupid. Without missing a beat he’ll have you in fits of laughter, pegging fake beef steaks at his head, and committing to a very expensive trip to “Greek”. Turns out comedy is a great fundraising endeavour.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Garry Starr – Greece Lightning returns to the Adelaide Fringe Festival until 19 March. He then tours to Darwin, Melbourne, Ballarat, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane throughout April and May. You can find tickets and dates for all locations here.

Follow Gary Elizabeth Starr @garrythestarr on Instagram.

The Spiegeltent fun continues in Wollongong until 27 March. See other comedy, cabaret and circus shows here.

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