Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Lisa Gornick’s Live Drawing Show, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott
Kylie, Lisa Stansfield and Laura Branigan: these are some of the upbeat popsters that artist Lisa Gornick loves listening to and, sitting at her desk with her sketchpad and pot of pens and brushes, lets us listen to as well. Their relevance only becomes clear later in this multimedia autobiographical play that, through a smart structure, turns into a celebration of the determination of Lisa’s Grandma Ray – an “East End Cockney who sometimes went posh” – to be the person she wanted to be.
Through a combination of free-flowing, characterful drawings, sketched in front of us; photos that span the last century; and diary entries from the 1920s to the 1990s, Lisa takes us on a personal journey through her Jewish family’s history. As we see her amusing little drawings take shape, projected on a screen, quite where we’re going to end up is kept skilfully hidden until the end.
Focusing on Grandma Ray’s reinvention of herself, frequenting dances at the local tennis club, it also looks at how the 1920s was a time of newfound freedom for women – the visual representation of this being their colourful flapper-style dresses, which Lisa draws on cartoon versions of her grandmother and her friends. As she does, they talk to her: “Give me a better mouth,” “Where’s my handbag”.
While Lisa tells us she wishes she had grown up “a New York Jew”, as a performer she has all of the sassiness associated with this stereotype. She’s also sharp and sexy in a nonchalant kind of way, something that’s refreshing for a style of show often associated with predictable homespun fuzziness.
A tale that also touches on being a gay woman in the 21st century, its final message of defiance in the face of prejudice is one that’s as relevant now as it ever was.
Gilded Balloon (Venue 14), until 31 August, 1:30pm
Published in The Scotsman on 25 August 2015
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