Educating the masses about art history
A strange one this. Will Gompertz is a senior director at Tate Gallery and looks it: tall, bookish, bespectacled, with a brow you could advertise on. His show aims to informally inform about the history of modern art from the Impressionists onward and takes place in a suitably characterless classroom in the University of Edinburgh. If the prospect of learning something at the Fringe gives you the screaming meemies, rest easy. Though the dread purpose of Double Art History is indeed to educate, Gompertz has taken pains to make the act breezy, surreal, often quite silly. No belly laughs, but no curled toes either.
He casts himself as a supply teacher, filling in for the audience’s absent, apparently deranged art lecturer. With the aid of PowerPoint slides, some 100 years and 27 ‘isms’ are barrelled through at a fiendish clip. Gompertz is not a comedy pro. Some gags are too high-concept for their content, others are just weak. But against all the odds, this show, a gussied-up lecture on extinct artistic tendencies, is not boring. That’s no small success.
Underbelly’s Hullabaloo, 0844 545 8252, until 23 Aug, 5.50pm, £9–£10 (£7–£8).