Made In Sydney/Touring Hub: Week Three – Sydney Fringe Festival (NSW)

Performances included Split Lip, Garry Starr Performs Everything & Anna Piper Scott: Such and Inspiration

Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Seymour Centre Sydney
As part of the Sydney Fringe Festival
Tickets under each show’s title

Split Lip

Writer and Directed by Blake Anderson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thu 22 – Sat 24 Sep – 1 Hour – Seymour Centre: Reginald Theatre

Fresh from Western Australia, writer, director, and performer Blake Anderson premieres their post-modern Split Lip at the Sydney Fringe. With a unique look at split personalities and accepting your own trauma and healing, Anderson harnesses the art of lip syncing to present something wholly original and captivating.

Ginava is dressed in a white gown with pale face paint, red lips and dark eye shadow which makes their eyes dramatically pop. This “one person show” utilises lip syncing to explore the inner demons that haunt Ginava. As a film buff, I found the most fun in recognising where the multitude of clips were from. Ginava’s journey takes us through an array of trauma, from drug related addictions (Wolf of Wall Street and Pineapple Express feature heavily) to relationship breakdowns (cue Mean Girls, Clueless and Never Been Kissed) and intangible familial connections (complete with a vulgar Exorcist outburst).

Each journey through their trauma is broken up by the next phase in their regular meetings and check-ins, as well as longer monologues of self-made characters that reveals the depths of their mental health.

The precision to which Anderson lands the lip syncing, as well as the lighting cues and movements that pronunciate their snaps from character to character is simply astonishing. Not only do they lip sync, but they embody each feeling inhabited in the clips, whether it be minutes long or seconds.

At first, I found the repetitive nature to be too cyclical before it struck me that this frustration was truly reflective of the character’s journey, as well as the frustrations that come with mental health itself.

For a show that I originally new nothing about, Split Lip was a pleasant surprise of the evening and one which had me thinking long after the show was finished.

Garry Starr Performs Everything

Written and Performed by Damien Warren-Smith

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Tue 20 – Sat 24 Sep | 55 minutes Seymour Centre – Reginald Theatre

After howling with laughter at Garry Starr’s Greece Lightning, it’s safe to say I was overly excited to see Damien Warren-Smith’s original Garry Starr production, Garry Starr Performs Everything – and, my god, this was absolutely chaotic in the best way possible.

Warren-Smith’s Garry Starr is an overzealous clown, with a love of theatre, a detestation of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a penchant for mispronouncing words with the utmost confidence. Tonight, Garry’s goal was to perform every genre of theatre for our eager audience. Unbeknownst to us, we would be heavily involved.

Entering with a large Shakespearean ruff and white tights that reveal his “minor talents”, Garry establishes his desire to perform everything from drama, circus, musicals and Japanese Noh theatre. Beginning with a saucy cabaret and impressive grape catching skills, the performance quickly deviates into a farcical territory as Garry pulls an audience member to perform a Harold Pinter piece with a script that pokes immense fun at the extensive pauses that Pinter employs.

From here, things get cooked* very quickly. Garry Starr bares all (and I mean all) as he asks us, “Do we know Noh?” before – well, I won’t spoil it all, but you best prepare your eyes.

Warren-Smith has a beautiful way to push audiences to the extreme, as seen in the memory that will forever be stapled in my mind when the Romantic Comedy genre came around. Let’s just say it involved a plate of spaghetti and the most action I’ve had all year.

Seeing both of Warren-Smith’s shows, it was interesting to see the development between the two. Where Greece Lightning showed a cohesiveness in portraying the many Greek Gods with recurring gags, Performs Everything is an abundance of ideas that are chaotically thrown at the wall one at a time and not seen again.

The audience size on opening night proved that Warren-Smith is quickly becoming a well-known, popular name in the comedy circuit. Leaving the performance, my eyes were glistening, my chest was sore, and my brain exhausted from the laughs that expelled from the depths of my soul. This is Fringe Comedy at its finest.

*Cooked – Extremely absurd, incomprehensible, and insanely funny

Anna Piper Scott: Such An Inspiration

Directed by Neptune Henriksen

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Wed 21 – Sat 24 Sep | 1 hour Seymour Centre – Reginald Theatre.

Comedian Anna Piper Scott presents a spoken essay on the power of jokes, as told through laughs and an abundance of symbolism. Such an Inspiration is a show about court jesters, chaos demons and Dave Chapelle, as well as the only three stories that are ever told about trans women – punchline, villain, or victim.

Scott has a beautiful means of addressing her audience, quickly establishing where the laughs are landing and playing to her strengths. It is made clear from the get-go that at roughly 45 minutes in we would be hit with the most dramatic and horrifying parts of her story. The journey to that arc is a gorgeous one, if not a little inconsistent.

Such an Inspiration traverses a variety of stories that strike a chord in her audience. The outrage at the King of Standup’s “triumphant” return, only to alienate a section of society. Her disdain that even after transitioning, she is still expected to have an opinion on sports. As well as her past trauma that led to a period of severe mental health.

As a cis male, I suspected that many of the gags wouldn’t resonate with me. In truth, there were a fair few that flew directly over my head, but the talent and honesty through which Scott told them was artfully done. Scott’s conversation with “TV’s Adam Hills as seen on Spicks and Specks and The Last Leg” made my ears prick up and was embedded neatly into the overall motif of the three-story category she established.

When it came to the 45-minute mark and we entered the nitty gritty depths of her story, Scott exited comic mode, and showed us her human side. Allowing emotion to enter her words and providing the journey with a worthy payoff.

Anna Piper Scott’s Such an Inspiration is a story worth telling, a journey worth hearing, and a talent that is worth seeing.

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