Garry Starr’s Greece Lightning feels like the spirit of the Fringe distilled into its purest form: potent, moreish, and, as a dazed audience member staggering from the caverns of Underbelly Cowgate, possibly hallucinogenic.
The deluded actor alter-ego of Damien Warren-Smith, Garry Starr has made it his mission to explore all the Greek myths in under 60 minutes, and an early gag about Uranus is the only predictable aspect of the entire show. As in his previous show, Garry Starr Performs Everything, in which he explored every type of theatre, Warren-Smith throws a madcap melange of genres at the crowd. And Garry is nothing if not a Renaissance idiot; proving himself equally incompetent, baffling, and deranged at everything he attempts.
Whether fighting a strangely haunting, bastardised three-headed Sweep puppet in the guise of Cerberus, repurposing Disney songs as cod-Shakespearean monologue, or sporting a posing pouch that threatens to get far closer to the essence of Gary than Gary gets to the essence of his subject, Warren-Smith is hilarious and vaguely threatening in equal measure.
He’s ably assisted by a series of seriously game audience members. Everyone hauled up to suffer indignities of varying magnitude gives it their all; a sure sign that the chaotic magic of Garry had everyone under its spell.
Despite the subject matter, there is nothing highbrow in Greece Lightning. Warren-Smith’s aim was to have as superficial a grasp of the legends as possible, as that’s all that Garry himself would have. He succeeds in this admirably. The show is a silly, increasingly hysterical (in the original sense) exploration of clowning and the way a performer’s body can be used depending on the context any given idea.
Greece Lightning feels like it could be this year’s Nate. While not as audacious thematically or physically dangerous as Natalie Palamides’ masterpiece, Warren-Smith hits the same dizzying, exhilarating sense that anything could happen. Within his established framework, he hits continuous heights of astonishment, uproar, and, occasionally, horror. How does one feel after this tour through the Hellenic past? Educated? Definitely not. Mildly traumatised? Oh yes. Thrilled? Absolutely.