This review first appeared on the Ed Fringe Review website on 21 August 2015.
The Edinburgh Fringe is a place for experimentation. From puppet shows with roadkill to existentialist plays set in broom cupboards, you can’t seem to move for eccentric, unconventional stagings and bold new ideas. Lisa Gornick’s show is one such experiment. A relatively straightforward re-telling of Gornick’s university years and family history, Gornick enlivens a bog-standard premise with her whimsical and personable drawings, done on the fly as Gornick monologues, and projected on a screen beside her. Gornick herself is an intelligent and engaging speaker, and this show makes for a very relaxing lunchtime watch; a perfect palate-cleanser between the more heavy-hitting shows of the Fringe.
Gornick opens with light-hearted banter and sketches of audience members, and the air of relaxation is what makes the rest of the show work so well, as Gornick dives deeper and deeper into her personal and family history. The show overall feels like listening to a good anecdote at a family gathering; very entertaining, but with a sense of intimacy and comfort which makes the story’s more poignant moments even more powerful.
Gornick delves into her family’s background as Russian Jewish immigrants, and her riffs on multicultural London are witty and well-observed. She also addresses her sexual awakening at university and the pain of being rejected by her female flatmate. These portions of the show feel brave and honest, but these moments are never at the expense of comedy; indeed, they are among the funniest parts of the show.
The drawings themselves are scratchy, exaggerated and cartoonish, and while Gornick’s style is charming enough, the fact that they are done on the fly means mistakes occasionally mar important moments. While Gornick’s monologue is humourous and entertaining, there are few belly laughs, and this is hardly what you’d call ground-breaking comedy.
On the whole, however, Lisa Gornick’s Live Drawing Show is a gentle, charming hour of entertainment, which builds meticulously from larking about to a genuinely moving conclusion. It’s not the best possible hour you can have at the festival, but this is a remarkable piece of entertainment nonetheless. Recommended, especially if you’re of an artistic persuasion.