Hannah Gadsby Goes Beyond A Joke, In Nanette

Hannah Gadsby, Nanette ★★★★☆

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 30 months ago

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Hannah Gadsby Goes Beyond A Joke, In Nanette Hannah Gadsby, Nanette 4

There's nary a dry eye in the house by the time Hannah Gadsby's done — and these aren't tears of laughter either.

Back in 2014, we were tickled by the Tasmanian's soft, bookish charm. By her own admission, Gadby's favourite sound is that of a tea cup being placed lightly back into its saucer. But in Nanette, Gadsby is angry. Fucking angry. That teacup and saucer: hurled at the metaphorical wall.

A chucklesome putter of awkward reminisces (being mistaken for a man; unable to come out to her gran) slowly unfolds into a startling — sometimes outright stark — recollection of childhood, adolescence and the wider wrongs of society. In moments so raw, they're full-on eye stingers, Gadsby yanks back a veil on earlier jokes, revealing the unpalatable dirt they've been sown from. Nanette's a tough watch — especially, perhaps if you're a white straight male — but spare a thought for its creator, visibly fraying in front of the mic (night in night out, too).

Don't get us wrong, there are some devastatingly funny lines (and when the comic relief comes, the release is palpable). She tears Pablo Picasso a new one, drawing a direct line between the miscreant painter and Trump. But this is a set laced heavily with meaning; seek throwaway gags elsewhere.

"I'm tired," the comic-gone-serious sighs throughout the night. What's the point in doing comedy when there's so little to laugh at? Things have gone way beyond a joke — that's her point. She even hints at retirement, as she has done for some time.

But Hannah Gadsby won't be withdrawing into the shadows just yet. Ears around the world are finally pricking up to this kind of vital commentary. The next stop for Nanette is New York.

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette, Soho Theatre, until 3 March. Since we saw the show, tickets for this run are now sold out: call Soho Theatre box office for returns.

Last Updated 01 March 2018