Scenography is stripped to the minimum, with a few basic set elements such as a chair, and a coat stand to help with costume changes—which includes everything from tights and ruffs to dresses and full frontal nudity. The lighting and sound help to propel and support the comedy with commendable timing, but Warren-Smith really is the Starr of the show.
It’s an incredible feat to keep an audience completely engaged for the full duration of a show, but Warren-Smith does this with ease. His charisma drives the comedy, and he maintains a pace that keeps the audience on their toes. Audience interaction can be a tricky thing to tackle, because it relies not only on the performer, but on the willingness of the audience in that particular showing. Warren-Smith goes beyond ordinary interaction, instead actively involving the audience in scenes—to the point where he was even kissed on the lips by a number of audience members. To foster a space where the audience feels that comfortable to join in with the fun is truly astounding, and it is one of the great strengths of Garry Starr Performs Everything.
I mentioned before that Warren-Smith parodies the genres he performs. To a degree this is true based on the sheer comedy of the piece, however, it never feels as though it is at the expense of anything he covers (bar perhaps the Royal Shakespeare Company). There is a kind of beauty in the way that Warren-Smith appreciates and understands the styles that he recreates. While side-splittingly funny, the performance still carries an air of admiration for its source material. Garry Starr Performs Everything has incredible integrity and stays true to its intention of saving these genres while poking a bit of fun. It is an incredible piece of comedic theatre that is not to be missed.
Garry Starr Performs Everything is showing at BATS at The Random Stage until Friday 15th March, at 6:30pm. To purchase tickets, visit the BATS website, or for information on other shows in Wellington Fringe Festival, visit the NZ Fringe website. If you happen to be in Australia in the coming months, visit the Garry Starr Facebook Page for information on Damien Warren-Smith’s upcoming show Garry Starr Conquers Troy.