Lisa Gornick's Live Drawing Show

Wed 5th – Mon 31st August 2015


William Shaw

at 09:16 on 21st Aug 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.


Holly Harper

at 12:02 on 21st Aug 2015



From the outset of this experimental and compelling journey of heritage and humour, it is clear that Edinburgh has a special importance to Lisa Gornick. Returning to the city in which she both studied and performed as a young comic, this fun and personable performance is brimming with nostalgia.

Gornick is also clearly experienced in the art of entertainment and she does well under the pressure of this innovative method of storytelling that involves simultaneously drawing and painting. Gornick’s story takes us from Russia to the East End via Glasgow - the story of her Grandmother Ray’s escape from the plague of anti-semitism that swept across Europe in the early 21st Century.

It was an intelligent decision to frame this autobiographical story not through Lisa herself but instead through Ray, working to develop a narrative of generational conflict and reconciliation. At the heart of Gornick’s family tale is the heartwarming message of continuity, repetition and lineage. The rapid segueing between the stories allows you at times to forget whether Gornick speaks of her own youth or that of Ray, they become merged, part of the same narrative of liberation, excitement and rebellion.

The innovation of Gornick’s show at times intrudes upon her rapport with such an intimate audience. Such an intimate venue demands constant and undivided attention, of which was impossible under such artistic pressures. Only on a couple of occasions did this interrupt the flow of the performance and at no points did it detract from the charm of what Gornick was trying to achieve with these original drawings that are available for sale after the show.

This fast paced drawing technique and the improvised painting was a fitting representation of the haziness of memory and our tendency to embellish and misremember. Gornick made frequent allusions to her own power as both narrator and artist which made for some comic moments.

It was unfortunate that the nature of this ambitious, one-woman show at points got in the way of delivery and communication. This was a beautiful story of liberation through the ages, wonderfully told and perfectly resonant.


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