Will Gompertz @ Underbelly Bristo Square

The sequel to Will Gompertz's original Double Art History is a welcome break from more traditional Fringe shows

Review by Dominic Corr | 26 Aug 2019
  • Will Gompertz @ Underbelly Bristo Square

Oh goodie, an exam during the Fringe – just what we’ve always wanted. It turns out this show, with its lead-up and eventual test, is precisely the break-away from the traditional Fringe one may desire.

BBC arts editor Will Gompertz returns to Edinburgh with a sequel to his original Double Art History. The show sees Gompertz finding himself fooled into teaching a room of Fringe-goers into grasping the various historical art movements before an end of year exam. Good luck.

Part BBC show, with the flair of a TED Talk, there’s a playfulness to the event. Refraining from an all-out class theme, there’s a humourous undertone to the lessons we receive – we're having fun while we learn. Shocking, we know.

Gomperz covers a vast array of topics, scratching the surface of Impressionism, Cubism or Surrealism – sure we miss out on Romanticism, Fauvism or Pointillism, but he nails most of the major ‘isms’. From these various movements, we are taught how to spot a Monet from a Manet, and just why Tracey Emin's Unmade Bed is worth so much.

There’s an odd foray into the realms of audience participation, which of course is the definition of a double-edged sword. Exquisite Corpses, a game which borrows its name from the surrealist art styles where the audience write a sentence to follow on from another member, leads to both laughter and awkward silences.

So, it comes down to the exam. A brief, three-minute challenge of our abilities to listen, and a test to see if some of us can still retain anything after a Fringe-worth of shows. Double Art History: The Sequel has a wit you’ll struggle to find elsewhere in the Fringe, and is anti-elitist and accessible to all.

Will Gompertz: Double Art History – The Sequel, Underbelly Bristo Square, run ended