Hannah Gadsby: Douglas
- Brian Donaldson
- 6 November 2019
The sequel to a global sensation that manages to go its own way
How do you follow up a show like Nanette? As its creator Hannah Gadsby pretty much admits, that was always nigh well impossible. But having seemingly backtracked on her announcement that she was quitting the stand-up game, this likeable Tasmanian has returned with Douglas, a show that might not contain the emotional lacerations which made Nanette an uncompromising experience for both performer and viewer, but is still a compelling sequel.
Unsurprisingly, Gadsby continues to have the patriarchy firmly in her sights, as she explains during an opening section which brilliantly deconstructs the evening ahead and anticipates our responses to the yet-to-be delivered material. Reveals are cheerfully given away and forthcoming attractions are scattered around in a bold start which challenges comedy's structural orthodoxy as much as Nanette blew away the very notion of what stand-up might mean in this age of the confessional.
Here, she might not be taking apart #MeToo behemoths such as Pablo Picasso and Bill Cosby, but she does find plenty instances of misogyny to disseminate such as an unhelpful dogwalker in the park and the 18th century Scottish physician who 'invented' a hitherto unnamed section of the female anatomy. Gadsby does find room to target anti-vaxxers and Nanette-haters while in the finest passage, she uses her art history background for a sequence of hilarious visual clues to spotlight the hegemonic male gaze across many centuries.
Having gatecrashed the comedy party in 2017, Nanette might not have been quite the game-changer that many onlookers suggested it would be, but at the very least that award-winning salvo made everyone sit up and take notice of a comic previously tagged as 'interesting'. Douglas proves that Hannah Gadsby is a natural on the bigger stage and has a volley of ideas and a slew of gags to back up her finally realised potential.
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas is on tour until Saturday 23 November. Seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre.