Tag Archives: Damien Warren-Smith

Garry Starr Performs Everything


Southwark Playhouse Borough

GARRY STARR PERFORMS EVERYTHING at Southwark Playhouse Borough


“an hour of squirm-inducing silliness you’ll want to bring all your friends to”

Recently barred from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Garry Starr is on a mission to save theatre from the pretentious establishment who make Billy Shakes boring. To achieve this, he has under an hour to pack in as many genres as possible, to show, solo, how they should really be performed.

It’s a high-energy romp and a quintessential fringe comedy show. One hour of intensely physical theatre best enjoyed after sinking one or two pints. Both to more heartily laugh at the silliness of it all and to more readily volunteer as Garry’s co-star.

Garry, the creation of Damien Warren-Smith, is endearingly eccentric with his lack of self awareness leading to comic error rather than arrogance. He is full of malapropisms – those who don’t understand the theatre are phallustines; we are told about Starr’s semenal work; and introduced to Placeidon – the god of the sea and after birth. Dressed in Elizabethan ruff and too-tight, knee-length leggings-come-breeches, Warren-Smith as Starr gives us a rendition of what Act 2 Scene 2 of Hamlet would have sounded like in Shakespeare’s day. Then, stripping down to a very small and well-stuffed jock-strap, prances about to show us contemporary dance. It is telling that the piece ends with Garry’s take on Cirque Nouveau – for this show owes more to clowns and jesters than it does to Ibsen or Chekhov.

Acclaimed director Cal McCrystal, responsible for directing an early show for The Mighty Boosh and the physical comedy in One Man, Two Guvnors, is an excellent fit for Warren-Smith’s slapstick. But the audience interaction, general lack of clothing and, at times, full frontal nudity, felt like it owed a lot to shows directed by Dr Brown, like Natalie Palamides’ Laid and Courtney Pauruoso’s Gutterplum. Perhaps that’s not surprising, given both Dr Brown and Damien Warren-Smith, the man behind the character, both trained at the Parisian clown academy Ecole Philippe Gaulier.

The show suffers from the Nanette-ification of comedy, where a set is not complete without its final act reckoning with the struggles that forged it. Here it feels contrived and out of kilter with the rest of the outrageous silliness of the rest of the show. Some comedy, particularly clowning and physical theatre, can just be unashamedly funny.

Nonetheless I was stunned when the show ended that an hour had already gone by. I would happily have kept watching whilst Starr took on kitchen-sink drama or Gilbert and Sullivan. Garry Starr’s high energy dramatics hold up a funhouse mirror to theatre making for an hour of squirm-inducing silliness you’ll want to bring all your friends to.


GARRY STARR PERFORMS EVERYTHING at Southwark Playhouse Borough

Reviewed on 4th December 2023

by Amber Woodward

Photography by Jeromaia Detto



More Southwark Playhouse reviews:

Lizzie | ★★★ | November 2023
Manic Street Creature | ★★★★ | October 2023
The Changeling | ★★★½ | October 2023
Ride | ★★★ | July 2023
How To Succeed In Business … | ★★★★★ | May 2023
Strike! | ★★★★★ | April 2023
The Tragedy Of Macbeth | ★★★★ | March 2023
Smoke | ★★ | February 2023
The Walworth Farce | ★★★ | February 2023
Hamlet | ★★★ | January 2023
Who’s Holiday! | ★★★ | December 2022
Doctor Faustus | ★★★★★ | September 2022

Garry Starr Performs Everything

Garry Starr Performs Everything

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Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety – 5 Stars


 Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety

Hackney Empire

Reviewed -20th October 2018


“this annual festival is a joyous celebration of the scene in all its camp, disruptive naughty glory”


This is the third year for Jonny Woo’s queer, sexy, ribald, irreverent take on this most British of formats, and it’s clear that this fabulous evening has now rightly taken its place in London’s alternative social calendar. London now leads the world in queer performance, and this annual festival is a joyous celebration of the scene in all its camp, disruptive naughty glory. Jonny is the perfect host – witty, warm and salacious in equal measure – and Julian Smith’s costumes are delicious throughout. It is a long evening, at four hours, but the acts come fast and furious and are well-balanced enough that time flies by. This reviewer has to confess to being utterly disabled by laughter on more than one occasion – a treat indeed.

The whole show is cheerfully sweary from beginning to end, but there is a clear tonal arc to proceedings, and the second half is significantly filthier than the first. If you blanch at nudity and overt drug references, this is really not the night for you! After an explosive opening number, which sets the scene for the gender play throughout, the show begins with supremely professional high-camp drag from Myra Dubois. She opens the floodgates for the surge of talent to follow, and it is worth remembering that the energetic silliness of acts such as Garry Starr (Damien Warren-Smith’s brilliant comedy alter-ego), as well as the anarchic scratch-punk world of Christeene and Lucy McCormick, demand a high degree of artistic skill. Similarly, for those who might dismiss Lip Sync, Rhys Hollis’ mind-blowing routine – a fierce, sexy mash-up of Nicky Minaj, Missy Elliott and more – was a lesson in performance precision.

And there are voices too. From Sooz Kempner’s belting rendition of the Chorus Line favourite The Music and the Mirror, to the magnificent surprise of comedienne Jayde Adams’ huge operatic soprano, unleashed after her whip-smart comedy set, to Carla Lippis’ in-your-face and dangerous ‘I’m a Liar’, the Hackney Empire resounded with song throughout the evening. Special mention must also go here to the wondrous Theresa May choir – in splendid voice as well as being eye-wateringly funny. Laughter is nigh on continuous for the duration of the show, and every audience member will come away with highlights. Bourgeois & Maurice’s outrageous and lyrically brilliant take on overpopulation – Babies – and Mawaan Rizwan’s unique blend of song, dance and stand-up were personal favourites.

It is to Woo’s credit that important issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community were woven in to the show’s glittering fabric – the importance of pronouns, trans equality, femme visibility and female visibility were all part of the tapestry. Equally, the terrific sketch between Le Gateau Chocolat and Adrienne Truscott was an affectionate poke at well-intentioned woke behaviour. The facility for self-parody is the surest sign of confidence, which Jonny Woo and this exceptional line-up exude from their pores. All Hail Their Majesties. Long May They Reign.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Studio Prokopiou


 Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety

Hackney Empire



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