Albrecht Dürer deserves as much recognition as his Italian counterparts Michelangelo and Raphael. Or so argues Kitty Walsh, art historian and creator of the show Albrecht Dürer: Renaissance Dude. Walsh spends an hour convincing audiences why the Northern Renaissance artist was so innovative and ahead of his time. In this hour of funny facts and anecdotes, audiences are sent away sharing in some part of her passion.
It might seem odd to take time out of the comedy, theatre, and music of the Fringe to go to what is essentially a lecture. However, Walsh’s enthusiasm for Dürer rivals the fanfare of other shows. The show is neither dry nor niche, but full of hidden gems of interest and is accessible to audiences of all backgrounds. Walsh does a fantastic job of outlining the basic information that many will already know, such as by locating the Northern Renaissance in its period, while also including specific theories in the art history world that are still debated, like speculations about Dürer’s love life and sexuality. There is a perfect mixture of academia and popular culture, as in one segment where Walsh taught the audience how to read the symbols in a work of art while simultaneously disparaging Dan Brown’s shoddy art history in The Da Vinci Code.
Audiences will also walk away with first-hand knowledge of some of Dürer’s works and methods. Walsh adds a hands-on aspect to the show by allowing some audience members to experiment with two different types of printing, one of Dürer’s favourite mediums. Artwork is passed throughout the audience, including an actual original print, to give audiences direct exposure to the artist that would not be possible anywhere else.
Walsh herself is charming and charismatic, adopting for the show some of the character traits she ascribes to Dürer himself, such as his self-love – see above, a picture of Walsh mimicking a self-portrait of Dürer where he painted himself as Jesus. While her speech is not flawless, sometimes stuttering or repetitive, she still holds everyone’s attention in her grasp with her passionate and conversational performance. While she sometimes lapses into self-consciousness when the audience isn’t responsive to questions, she quickly recovers and avoids awkwardness.
Walsh perfectly blends humour with history, making her show not only thoroughly enjoyable, but truly memorable. Her love for Dürer is infectious, and fuels a gripping show that will stir a new interest in all of its audience members.
Albrecht Dürer: Renaissance Dude
C-cubed (Venue 50)
Until 28 August
Photo credit: Kitty Walsh