Comedy review: Hannah Gadsby – Naked Nudes
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Hannah Gadsby – Naked Nudes at Assembly Rooms Checkpoint (Venue 322), reviewed by Ashley Davies
The fluently intelligent and highly likeable Hannah Gadsby, dressed in the traditional professorial uniform of corduroys, bow-tie and sleeveless jumper, wisely jokes that, like many other lecturers, she doesn’t care if you don’t laugh or if nobody turns up; she’ll just go ahead and teach.
No chance of that.
What ensues is a witty presentation about nudity in art, leading up to the early 20th century. Gadsby’s comfortable, warm delivery lubricates knowledge with laughs – a double whammy approach that always makes you feel like you’ve got your money’s worth.
She clearly knows her stuff: she studied history of art and curatorship, and has a lot of experience presenting lectures and tours on various aspects of visual art in her native Australia.
She divides the show into a handful of themes on how the naked body is depicted. She eases us in gently by inviting us to laugh at the ridiculousness of the “creepy little guy” nudes – the early paintings of babies and cherubs, with their weirdly proportioned heads or inappropriately adult behaviour.
Her use of slides throughout the show is smart, drawing us into a subject she has earned the right to take the rise out of.
Along the way she serves up way more artistic insight than you could get from an hour with Sister Wendy and Brian Sewell, playfully cocking a snook at the silliness of willies in paintings and sculptures, and poking fun at the fashions over the ages for covering genitals – fig leaves, fabric or a well-placed hand.
By the end of the show you start to realise she has cleverly spiked your cocktail of informative fun with a potent – and welcome – shot of feminism.
We are usually expected to view classical art with deep reverence and respect for the craft, so it is a treat to be encouraged to imagine male artists trawling the Bible and Greek and Roman myths for stories involving nudity as an excuse to perv at some
This show is an absolute pleasure to watch and it would be just wonderful to see more of – and learn more from – her.
Until 25 August. Tomorrow 1:45pm
Read an interview with Hannah Gadsby on her show
Originally published in The Scotsman