Review Roundup: Hannah Gadsby's DOUGLAS
Due to overwhelming ticket demand, Hannah Gadsby's latest solo show, Douglas, has extended its New York engagement for a second time, adding two additional weeks of performances. Douglas will now run through September 7 at the Daryl Roth Theater (101 East 15th Street).
Hannah Gadsby took the comedy world and Netflix by storm with her multi-award winning sensation Nanette. Now she returns to New York City, where Nanette played a critically acclaimed, sold out run in 2018, with an all new show, Douglas. And while Nanette was a random barista, Douglas is a very specific dog, and the only thing they have in common is they've inspired Hannah to put pen to paper and turn out a show you couldn't possibly expect.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Jesse Green, New York Times: In context, the claim is a nugget of self-deprecation; she has been talking about her autism, which often leaves her feeling confused in present-tense social situations, like the "only sober person in a room full of drunks." But it's also a boast, a motto, a banner: She has spectacular rearview vision. There's a lot for her to look back on in "Douglas," which opened on Thursday at the Daryl Roth Theater. Though Ms. Gadsby became famous in the United States only last year, when "Nanette" was picked up by Netflix, she lived on earth for several decades before that, mostly in Australia, without our consent or acknowledgment.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter: Gadsby continues to redefine the stand-up comedy form with this piece. At the beginning, she daringly deconstructs the show we're about to see, informing us that it will be divided into traditional stand-up, lecture and monologue. She even reveals some of the subjects in advance, telling us there will be a Louis C.K. joke but promising that by the time it comes, we'll have forgotten to expect it. She also informs us that she suffers from autism, amusingly adding that the information will come as a "bombshell" revelation later in the evening.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: Maybe unavoidably, too, Douglas lacks some of the deeper emotional impact of Nanette, a fact Gadsby is glad to acknowledge up front. If it's more trauma her audience is looking for - particularly the raw recountings of sexual abuse, physical assault, and rape she experienced as a girl and young woman - she is, alas, "fresh out." Though that doesn't mean she doesn't have highly personal and at times heartbreaking anecdotes to share about the painful impact her autism diagnosis continues to have not only on her personal life, but her mere ability to move through the world.
Trish Bendix, Time: The runaway success of Nanette looms large over Douglas. Early on, she jokes that she might have "budgeted [her] trauma better" if she'd known that the show would be such a success. She works through more recent trauma here, drawing upon a relationship that ended shortly after she was diagnosed with autism. And she digs in even deeper to the way she's been treated by men, as a queer and masculine-of-center woman. In so doing, she makes a compelling case that we should consider the source of just about everything: how things are defined, and by whom. Even the show's title gets at this; Gadsby says, at the beginning, that it's named after her dog, but as she digs deeper into the philosophy of the naming of things, it becomes clear that the title works on multiple levels.
Hilton Als, The New Yorker: The forty-one-year-old Tasmanian monologuist Hannah Gadsby addresses many things in her work: among them, violence against women, men and golf, art history, her lesbianism, and her difference in the world. And that difference is at the heart of her latest show, "Douglas," which I saw at the Merriam Theatre, in Philadelphia, last month. (The show is now in New York, at the Daryl Roth, through August 24th, before heading to Europe.) As she did in her popular 2018 Netflix special, "Nanette," which was filmed live at the Sydney Opera House, Gadsby strives to deliver a monologue that's not a string of self-deprecating jokes-like some of her early work, which she now views as a symptom of her self-loathing and evidence of women's tendency to marginalize themselves in order not to disturb the status quo. I was touched by this sentiment in "Nanette," and I wondered, as I watched, how Gadsby would use that kind of directness to strengthen the stories she told, since she is, essentially, a storyteller-someone who uses characters and situations to illustrate her ethos and thus, perhaps, connect more deeply with the audience. But that's not Gadsby's goal, not entirely.