Beware of Greeks bearing comedy gifts as sumptuous as these.
Garry Starr Conquers Troy, Underbelly - Cowgate, Edinburgh * * * *
Having torn through the dramatic canon for his uproariously funny debut last year, insane thespian Garry Starr has turned his ever-present ruff and attention to the classics, the better to espouse his comprehensive philosophy of acting.
A direct descent of the legendary Garry Starrtacus, he evokes that spirit of freedom and solidarity for plenty of knockabout audience interaction, no playful invasion of individuals' boundaries comparable to the physical indignities he subjects himself to. Smashing together some of humanity's most revered artistic achievements with the accessible culture of soap opera theme tunes, foundation myths with slapstick arseing about, Starr brandishes his bathos like a weapon. Homeric verse only inspires him to greater feats of casual malapropism. And his commitment is attested to by his swinging embodiment of a German naturist. Yes, not every set-piece subscribes to the Greek theme, far from it. Still, there's a twisted classical dignity to his recital of a passage from Moby Dick, the lines absorbed like a suppository. A lovely blend of verbal and physical comedy, it reiterates Starr's commitment to his craft while cocking a snook at the detested Method school of performance. Elsewhere, a neat expression of the resting actor cliché of becoming a pushy waiter finds him offering service through a hilariously contrived medley of renowned Hollywood speeches.
Throughout, from blind, stumbling Tiresias to the ultra-macho, cut-throat Achilles, Starr ranges across a multitude of dementedly outsize, one-dimensional grotesques, even as the man behind him, Damien Warren-Smith, never once discards his mask. Sharing none of Starr's vainglorious pretension, the Australian-Scot is a superb, accessible clown. And you would imagine that there's more performances to come from this memorable character yet.
Until 25 August