a Token Event
29 March 2015
Melbourne Town Hall, Supper Room
to 19 April
A few days after seeing Hannah Gadsby's Donkey, I'm still thinking about it. The dishes that I didn't do before going out to see her are still there, and I'm still in awe of how she finds the spot where wanting to cry becomes needing to laugh so deeply that it makes you feels better about something you hate about yourself.
When I first saw Hannah, she was doing palindrome jokes about her brother Kayak and showing us where she lived on her map of Tasmania – I loved her. Over time, her work has become more personal and she's told stories that have reached the hearts of everyone who sees her.
She says at the beginning of Donkey that's she's always amazed to see a room full of people wanting to see her. People want to see her because she lets us share her experiences and discover that no matter how different we are, that we have far more in common then we ever thought.
For me, it was the dishes. Today, I'm writing rather than doing them. I WILL do them at the end of this review. I have a plan. I have done them in the last 19 days (Hannah's record) but I know I've gone longer. And it was the last-minute panic-cum-do-something-fundamentally-useless-and-time-consuming before catching a plane. Hannah once decided to pair her socks up rather than pack. I recently spent a couple hours trying to fix my printer when I didn't need to print anything because all the details were on my phone. The printer's still not fixed and I paid for extra baggage rather than pack properly.
The donkey in her show is Hannah. It starts when she hates the barista at her nearest coffee shop. She keeps going because it's the nearest. He's the type of person who, she knows, thinks he's better than she is. He's a dressage horse, she's a donkey. It's about feeling so out-of-step with the rest of the world that it's easier to stay inside with mounting dishes. And it's about her finding out that her diagnosis of depression was wrong.
So was mine. The symptoms of depression are broad but specific. If you have the broad symptoms, please have a professional check the specific.
It's also a show about winning and getting things right and knowing that of course a unicorn will love a donkey, because donkies are gorgeous and loving and so much more fun than a smarmy horse.
All of this is rolled up into a tightly written, beautifully structured piece that lets stage Hannah bring enough of real Hannah with her and leave them both safe and loved.
Hannah Gadsby is simply one of the best stand-up comedians around.
Now I'm going to go and do some dishes.
There's also a version of this on aussietheatre.com.au.