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Bit parts: Garry Starr Performs Everything @swkplay

Garry Starr Performs Everything is a bare-bones (and bare buttocks) tribute to the theatre. Theatre may be in trouble, and audiences are down, but Garry Starr aims to save the theatre and bring back to the masses every style of theatre possible. As long as each style involves wearing a transparent white leotard or a skimpy thong. And tassels. It's part comedy, part physical comedy and part perv at Gary's physical prowess. The sentiment "if you've got it, flaunt it" applies here. So here we are with a show that has been around for some years and is having its first proper London run at the Southwark Playhouse (Borough) through Christmas. The premise is that Garry Starr (played by Damien Warren-Smith) has left the Royal Shakespeare Company over artistic differences. He is now on a mission to save the theatre from misrepresentation and worthy interpretations by doing things such as a two-minute Hamlet, recreating scenes from a Pinter play using unsuspecting audience

Limp Christmas: Pinocchio No Strings Attached @abovethestag

No Christmas is complete nowadays without an adults-only pantomime. These shows don't have to worry about innuendo, they aim right for the crotch. So it’s no surprise that in Pinocchio No Strings Attached at Above The Stag, the young boy has a different growth to deal with when he tells a lie. But despite an amusing premise and a cast that seems eager to please, the piece is overlong and a bit limp.

Set in the fictional Italian port side town called, Placenta, Toymaker Gepetta and her lesbian niece are on the run from the law. Gepetta seeking a man in her life inadvertently calls on the local lesbian fairy Fatima who brings her toy... boy to life. Meanwhile, there’s a wealthy evil landlord, Figaro who wants a piece of the action, a cat with a severe fur ball problem and a footballer thinking of coming out of the closet.

For a pantomime, it’s surprisingly faithful to many elements of the Pinocchio story. Albeit with gay, lesbian and pantomime dame flavours. But with many possibilities - boys turning into donkeys, appendages that grow and lesbian fairies - many of the jokes fall flat, and a distinct lack of sexiness pervades throughout.

Pinocchio’s growing appendage was met with bewilderment rather than mirth.  Looking like a vacuum cleaner hose with a dildo on it probably didn't help. Large chunks of the plot seemed to get in the way of the comedy. Many gags were delivered without much sense of urgency or timing. Other  jokes play on tired European stereotypes which don’t fit well in a show aimed at central London audiences.

Still, it looks terrific with its gorgeous set designs by David Shields, and Christopher Lane is deliciously evil as Figaro. Dami Olukoya as the straight-talking Lesbian fairy is a welcome relief. And since Pinocchio can’t whistle in this story the way he has to summon her is worth a laugh.

Directed by Andrew Beckett, Pinocchio No Strings Attached continues at Above The Stag Theatre until January 11.


Photos by PGB Studios

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