TV ‘Nanette’ by Han­nah Gadsby

The Monthly (Australia) - - THE ALLURING WORLD OF LIANE MORIARTY -

The re­sult is breath­tak­ing, even on re­peat watches. Nanette is a stun­ning demon­stra­tion of unerring for­mal skills ap­plied to the raw, in­erad­i­ca­ble pain of be­ing dif­fer­ent.

“No­body here,” says Han­nah Gadsby mid­way through her as­ton­ish­ing stand-up show Nanette, “is leav­ing this room a bet­ter per­son.”

She’s right. One of the en­dur­ing mis­con­cep­tions about art is that it makes you a bet­ter per­son (or, if it hap­pens to be deca­dent art, it makes you a worse one). If art of any kind were that magic, the world would be a very dif­fer­ent place.

If it’s very good, art does some­thing else: it in­vites you to re­flect. And per­haps then, in tan­dem with a lot of other im­pon­der­ables, it may change the way you act in the world. It may even change your life. Nanette is the kind of art made by some­one who has no fucks left to give, who has de­cided, what­ever the cost, that she will tell her truth.

Gadsby is, as she tells us, very good at what she does. She knows how to write a com­plex script that weaves mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tives through an ar­chi­tec­ture of thought. As a per­former, she knows how far she can stretch ten­sion and pre­cisely when to re­lease it. She lays out her tools of trade for our ex­am­i­na­tion, and judges them as want­ing.

All her pro­fes­sional life, she tells us, has been about hu­mil­i­at­ing her­self for the plea­sure of oth­ers, and now she’s not go­ing to do that any­more. And then she tells us why.

The re­sult is breath­tak­ing, even on re­peat watches. Nanette is a stun­ning demon­stra­tion of unerring for­mal skills ap­plied to the raw, in­erad­i­ca­ble pain of be­ing dif­fer­ent in a so­ci­ety that pun­ishes that dif­fer­ence.

“I will never flour­ish,” Gadsby says des­o­lat­ingly to­wards the end. Some wounds change the very struc­ture of your be­ing. But, as Nanette demon­strates, if you sur­vive be­ing bro­ken, there are things be­yond it: gen­eros­ity, per­cep­tive­ness, pride, con­nec­tion and, most of all, courage. Courage won’t change the world by it­self, but noth­ing will change with­out it.

Ali­son Crog­gon

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