Live Review: Garry Starr Conquers Troy, The Warren: Brighton Fringe

Live Review: Garry Starr Conquers Troy The Warren: The Hat, Brighton Fringe

Last year Garry Starr Performs Everything took a number of fringe festivals by storm, picking up accolades in Brighton, Manchester and Adelaide, as well as being nominated for Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This year Damien Warren-Smith's character of the 'disgraced actor' is back with new ways of showing off his versatility in another one-man show, continuing in the clownish vein he hit the ground running with. You don't need to be any more than loosely aware of the classics, but with each nod to a Greek god you get a warm buzz of self-congratulation. This is feelgood stuff, with lots of ideas performed through the persona of Garry, the jobbing actor with hopes of grandeur.

There's dance, there's songs – a lovely device that serves to mark the partitions between different segments nicely, taking television theme songs and turning them into fun precis of classic tales. I will never hear The Brady Bunch the same again. There's audience interaction as Garry brings selected stooges up, although they are never the fools, always supported enablers of the joke. Even stunts as a crescendo, using household objects that are both impressive and funny. Not always an easily achievable result.

However, compared to last year's offering ...Conquers Troy felt a bit baggy. Perhaps it was the larger room, moving from the shipping container venue of last year into The Warren's largest performance space and having to work harder for that intimacy that can tip into hysteria with the repetition of a piece of tomfoolery. It didn't help that the start of the show kicked off with a Shakespearean turn and 'acting tips' for remembering lines that, although nice ideas, didn't really fit the flow of the rest of the piece. One that focussed less on acting instruction and was more of a good old tattlebag of Classics jokes that ranged from engagingly silly puns to a sweet mime of an Ancient Greek family going to bed.

To be fair, this didn't feel as if it was expecting to be as tight as its predecessor either. A dog appeared for a punchline that was later revealed to be something new, and although the tech was pretty bang on it allowed for bits to be tried again – a horror movie Botox gag worked this particularly well – and for a goodnatured second start as latecomers accidentally disrupted the grand opening. There was also something of a major disruption which needs to be acknowledged in the escorting of three audience members out of the venue by security, which was handled remarkably tactfully by Garry.

Garry Starr Conquers Troy is fun. It's silly. It's clever in parts. It's clownish. It's not tight, but perhaps it's not finished yet. As sometimes happens at fringes prior to the big Edinburgh showcase, it's still working out a few kinks. For entertaining us and reacting in such good humour to obstacles that could have thrown another performer, Damien Warren-Smith demonstrated his showman chops admirably, and that hopefully by the time August comes around he will have another show worthy of collecting gongs on his hands.

At the Underbelly, Edinburgh, August 1 - 25, tickets and info here.


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