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Hannah Gadsby presents art imitating life

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Having only ever seen Hannah Gadsby on television’s Adam Hills Tonight delivering witty one-liners, I was slightly disappointed seeing her live at The Grainger Studio during one of her Feast Festival shows on the weekend.

Gadsby obviously has a huge following, with many of the large crowd returning after her sell-out Fringe season earlier in the year.

Gadsby started the show with an apology for a bad back which she said was affecting her mobility and mood, but I wasn’t sure if that was part of the act as she followed it up with some jokes about it being the reason she was drinking and some other jokes about pills.

Whatever kickstart Gadsby had, it was slow to work as it took her a while to warm up and throughout the show she appeared nervous.

The theme of the show was multifaceted, but mainly about the portrayal of women in art. Using giant projections of famous art works, Gadsby made some clever observations and had the crowd laughing, but overall the presentation was sacreligious and surprisingly negative about women.

The show seemed to lack cohesion, but interspersed throughout the show, Gadsby showed images that drew parallels between the poses of Vladimir Putin, Justin Bieber, Tony Abbot and finally herself which is what pulled the presentation together. This was very good and would have taken her a lot of time in research.

Gadsby also showed many images of herself growing up. No-one looked great in the ’80s, but Gadsby was a little too down on herself – the self-deprecation was more sad than funny. She was quite positive about her jawline, however, which is also very good.

The show was presented cabaret style, with the audience sitting in groups around tables but, perhaps due to her sore back, Gadsby remained onstage. She may have more successfully engaged the crowd had she been able to move around the audience and interact with some of them one on one.

Gadsby almost went out on a high point, but then made a joke about how her bad back prevented her from exiting the stage and then returning for an encore, so she kept performing for another 20 minutes or so.

Hannah Gadsby ‘The Exhibitionist’ was presented last weekend as part of the Feast Festival, which closed on Sunday.

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