Edinburgh Fringe Review 2019 – Garry Starr, Garry Starr Conquers Troy, Underbelly

It’s normally a very bad idea to try and make the art of acting the central topic of a Fringe show. But Garry Starr is the exception that proves the rule.

Starr is a character in love with the smell of the greasepaint, the glow of the floodlights and the roar of the crowd. 

In his previous show Starr undertook to demonstrate every kind of theatrical style.

This year he has decided to tackle the classics – with a half-baked notion that he wants to strip the art of theatre back to its roots.

While a lot of physical clowns struggle with how to structure a show, Starr is great at finding a concept that pulls everything together. 

Somehow or other he manages to bring soap opera acting, Spielberg films and TV talent shows into a spectacle ostensibly all about Ancient Greece.

He has also built his own Trojan horse, half written an autobiography and worked out how to delay the aging process.

What’s new this year is the level of audience participation. Members of the front couple of rows are likely find themselves playing instruments, getting tied up or stage fighting. 

And be warned, wherever you sit you’re likely to end up with Garry Starr’s genitals extremely close to your face at some point.

There’s an air of unpreparedness, which is odd in such a well thought out show. Starr seems to be playing around with the order and changing bits to make sure they work as well as possible. It seems genuine – but it’s possible he’s faking it and being deliberately slapdash. 

The feeling of spontaneity, desperation and underlying chaos might help make members of the audience so willing to muck in – even though joining Garry Starr on stage is a genuinely unpredictable experience. 

Starr is an inspired idiot. And there are some good but extremely stupid jokes in here, as well as some superb physical comedy.

What makes everything so much funnier is that Starr appears to take himself extremely seriously – even when everything he does is patently idiotic and everything he says contains some kind of misunderstanding, mispronunciation or basic error.

Whether he’s fighting, crying, sticking things up his bottom or running around the stage naked, Garry Starr has the audience howling with laughter.

You won’t find out what to do with the rolled up socks on your chair until the very last moment – but when you do realise what they are for, it’s surprising, brilliant and clever.

Garry Starr Conquers Troy is at The Underbelly until August 25. Tickets here. 

Read more Edinburgh Fringe reviews here.

****

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