Disgruntled actor Garry Starr, (aka comedian Damien Warren-Smith) has just been kicked out of the Royal Shakespeare Company for reasons untold.
The introduction is short. “My name is Garry Starr; and I am on a mission. Theatre is dying and I am here to save it.” And that is when the madness begins. Damien challenges himself to perform as many genres of theatre as he can cram into 50 minutes and thereby save the performing arts from extinction.
The stage is sparsely set with only a hat stand and a pup-tent from which he pulls additional props. The costume changes are completed at lightning speed as he moves from Burlesque, to Farce, to Tragedy, Contemporary Dance, Slapstick, Physical Theatre, Euro Theatre, Romantic Comedy, Clown, Musical Theatre and the ancient Japanese dance style Noh.
Although the pace is downright hectic, Damien is in total control. His timing is impeccable and the diversity of roles is stunning. He brings each genre to life in a matter of seconds and each one of these character parts leaves the audience in stitches. He is very funny.
Damien maintains this manic pace throughout the show and his physical capabilities (and assets) are literally on display as he runs butt naked from one side of the theatre to another, climbing over the audience and into the sound booth. He spits Shakespeare at a rate that would impress Eminem, becomes coyly feminine in Farce and makes his Burlesque character decidedly seductive.
Damien’s ability to engage his audience throughout the show is one of the more surprising elements. Call it testament to his performing skills, his odd likeability or the fact that no one could possibly look more foolish than him, Damien doesn’t have to coax audience members on-stage. He simply looks at them longingly until they willingly jump on stage to join in the mayhem.
Despite the buffoonery, it is obvious that Damien has been formally trained in the dramatic arts. He takes on Pinter and Ibsen, decimates Shakespeare (the Royal Shakespeare fired him unceremoniously) and gives kudos to Britney Spears with a rendition of 'Baby One More Time' – delivered in an Elizabethan style. Pavarotti gets a nod with Damien sucking on spaghetti in a Romanic Comedy parody and even Paul Simon is acknowledged in the Slapstick routine.
Damien Warren-Smith is a supremely confident, energetic and versatile performer who has ample opportunity to showcase his considerable talents in this hilarious spoof. If anyone can save the performing arts, chances are it will be the imitable, yet disgraced Garry Starr.