Underbelly Cowgate – Belly Button

August 2-25th (not 12th, 19th) – 8:00pm

🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars)

A scantily clad man offering me Greek bread with dips as I enter Garry Starr’s show at the Belly Button was an odd yet welcoming experience. The man in question was Garry Starr, immediately making an intimate connection with his paying public (more on this intimacy later).

The actual show began in a very surreal manner. To the tune of β€œHolding Out For A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler, Starr bursts out from backstage in an Elizabethan ruff around his neck and a cloth, similar to a short skirt, covering his lower half. He rides a hobby horse around the stage whilst leaving the audience collectively confused.

There is a child-like innocence to Starr. His constant grin creates a warmth that spreads through the room, especially as he introduces his book β€œAn Actor Pretends”. His slight mispronunciation of certain words is a constant source of comedy. His impressions of certain characters, flawless. However, it is his impression of a lost German explorer where the show takes a more mature turn and Starr’s signature comedy is…exposed, shall we say.

From there onwards, what has been seen, cannot be unseen. This is all in trademark, bizarre Garry Starr style. A couple of mishaps with his lighting technician did bring this show to a halt at a few points and this did become a bit grating if it was indeed intentional.

However, what is wonderful about Garry Starr is that underneath the character is someone who is actually incredibly clever. He definitely knows his stuff when it comes to the intricacies of ancient and modern-day theatre and how to engage an audience. The character frames his show as β€˜drama masterclass’. I must admit, the theatre student in me was recognising a few techniques that I had learned along the way, which was lovely to see.

Coming out of the show, I feel like I had gotten to know Garry Starr a little bit more than I should have, having only met him an hour before. Although, overall, maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing.

James Macfarlane