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Hannah Gadsby: Mary. Contrary.

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julia Chamberlain

I so hope this is an early preview for next year! This show made me laugh harder and more than anything else I’ve seen this Fringe and I came out feeling at least temporarily better educated than when I’d gone in, there were also gales of laughter from everyone else, delighted to have an unusual subject on offer.

This is a lightning-fast history of art lecture on the religious iconography of the Virgin Mary in Western Art, richly illustrated with images from all over. Doesn’t sound like a scream, but Gadsby’s ironic wit, light touch and masterful grasp of her subject had the audience guffawing away.

This wasn’t any smug, self-congratulatory sniggering in a QI way, but proper snorting, belly laughs. The Ascent Of Christ provided a particularly rich seam of hilarity. Be assured, if necessary, this isn’t disrespectful to cherished beliefs, it’s not sneering in any way about religion, but there is a lot of humour to be had from the examination of the visual interpretations of the sustaining myths of Christianity, as well as the revelations about the artists, society and economy driving the production of the works.

As well as being entertaining and informative, this is by definition an absolutely beautiful show, with hundreds of richly gorgeous images on which to feast your eyes. There was audible disappointment when Gadsby finished, we would all have stayed another hour without hesitation.

With just five performances this Fringe to run it in, this should definitely come back next year. If you’ve seen it, you’ll want to see it again, and if you haven’t, it’s an absolute treat of a show.

Review date: 27 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain

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