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The male gaze: Turning the screw

It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

Bit parts: Garry Starr Performs Everything @swkplay

Garry Starr Performs Everything Production Photo

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 members, or recreating tragedy using somewhat familiar lyrics to songs by Britney. 

Garry Starr Performs Everthing production photo

As Garry performs everything, there is plenty of scope for audience participation. He asks almost every audience member if they're familiar with the Japanese style of theatre called Noh with a "Do you know Noh?". Being from Melbourne with a reasonably solid Australian accent, it becomes a masterclass in flattening vowels and creating syllables where none exist.   Then, a romantic comedy is re-enacted by sharing a plate of spaghetti with a volunteer until the lips meet. It is not a show for the shy unless you strategically place yourself away from aisles or rows he could easily access. 

However, amongst the nude ballet and bare-faced cheekiness, there is a playful and silly approach to the theatre and some inspired comic set pieces that are hard to resist. There is also a tiny moment of introspection that gives us a glimpse of how Garry got here. But only after we've seen his penis. And that's something you can't unsee. 

Directed by Cal McCrystal, Garry Starr Performs Everything is at the Southwark Playhouse Borough venue until 23 December. 


Photos by Wil Hamilton-Coates and Jeromaia Detto

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