Ancient history hilarity

Greece Lightning

Brisbane Powerhouse, Underground Theatre

May 10 – 15

Oddball Garry Starr’s “Greece Lightning” is a perfect festival show, full of crazy, chaotic comedy to leave its audience abuzz long after its experience. After a tongue-in-cheek “Grease” pre-show soundtrack, the Brisbane Comedy Festival work begins with explanation of Starr’s intent to boost tourism to save his Hellenic homeland from economic ruin. And, as he starts the share of props to audience stakeholders for feature in later scenes, so beings the riotous reminder of the main players of Ancient Greece, only not as we have ever before imagined them.  

“An overzealous idiot attempts to perform all of Greek Mythology in less than 60 minutes”…  it’s a proven formula that is, in and of itself, packed with comic opportunities as Damien Warren-Smith (aka Garry Starr) rushes us through a list of the many, varied Greek gods of Ancient mythology. Clowning about the stage, the personable performer engages and includes the audience from the outset, which establishes a collectivism that only enhances experience of this difficult-to-describe show. From jelly snakes to boxing gloves, inventive use of props only adds to the humour, as does his range (and eventual lack-thereof) costuming from his lightning bolt nipples to giant-eyed cyclops imagining and later ‘Under The Sea’ Poseidon-inspired mermaid presentation.

As it promises, “never before has Medusa been looser, Achilles more sillies, or Uranus so heinous”, and after Starr’s climate change themed number, you will also never listen to John Williamson’s ‘Rip Rip Wood Chip’ the same away again. While scenes may be random, they are underpinned by some clever structures. A German cinematic interpretation of the Trojan war contrasts its violent subject matter with light-hearted lyrics about its ‘killies’, the destructive story of Cronus is given a cherry Brady Bunch make-over and, with audience volunteer assistance, a masked theatre Greek chorus (of sorts) gives us a unique Zorba’s dance. And then there is his very M-rated ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ presentation of Oedipus as the OG mother-f’er.

There is never a dull moment in the anarchic energy and physical comedy of its creativity, meaning the show’s hour long duration flies by. Its erratic, increasing absurdity is certainly a lot, however, what elevates it beyond the comedy of its chaos is its craftedness. As Starr, Warren-Smith’s performance if full of subtleties of side looks and one finger movements. Its script too, is peppered with malapropisms, meaning that no comic opportunity is missed.

“Greece Lightning” is unique, witty and very funny show. Far from taking its too seriously, the one-man, many-god showcase of comedy, features flying fruit, water guns and full frontal nudity. A knowledge of Greek mythology is not a perquisite, but it will certainly enhance your experience, especially of its subtleties… as will familiarity with Sooty style puppetry. Do yourself a favour to find out why.

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