Harriet Braine: Total Eclipse of the Art
- Brian Donaldson
- 7 August 2017
This article is from 2017
An educational and entertaining musical meander around the history of art
Musical comedy is a genre of the laughter business that, somewhat ironically, gets quite a bad rap. Despite the likes of Bill Bailey, Flight of the Conchords and Bo Burnham giving it a credibility boost down the years, there remains a certain waft about it that puts a lot of people right off. Just a bit too clever-clever, some critics would say, as though a little bit of intelligence is a bad thing.
No one who hates musical comedy is likely to despise it any less upon encountering the work of Harriet Braine, who showed that the form can still make in-roads after her 2016 success in scooping the Funny Women competition and earning a spot on the So You Think You're Funny final lineup. Dressed up as an art history seminar, Professor Braine is here to educate us on the great artists and, more importantly, show us how their names can fit into instantly recognisable tunes.
So, without giving too many of the surprises away, Matisse is merged with a classic country number, The Police put on the red light for Cezanne, Da Vinci meets Kate Bush on a moor and the longstanding confusion some might have with Monet and Manet won't be helped by being mashed up in an Abba standard about cash.
The number which perhaps best sums up the experience of being at a Harriet Braine show is her version of a Lou Reed classic in 'Walk on the Mild Side', penned for one of her contemporary art heroes, Grayson Perry. Clearly Harriet Braine is never going to have the coursing energy of a Bo Burnham but while she has a perfectly delightful act, there's just that little something missing that could take her onto the next level.
Laughing Horse @ The Golf Tavern, until 27 Aug (not 14), 1.15pm, free.