Harriet Braine: Total Eclipse of the Art

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Harriet Braine
Published 17 Aug 2017

Before this show, it must be confessed that this particular reviewer knew very little on art history. Step forward Harriet Braine, (in guise as Professor Braine) to sing her way through a pop music-infused lecture on the seminal painters of yesteryear. 

Armed with a guitar and a surprisingly good vocal impression of a trumpet, Braine reels her way through the familiar hallmarks of the genre. What's different in this case is that she's pairing her aesthetic-history satire with established pop songs (rather than patchy original tunes), so there's recognisable ditties to hum along to.

There's a romantic ode to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Dolly Parton-inspired Henri Matisse tribute, and the pick of the bunch is an ABBA hit reworked with recourse to 19th Century French Impressionism ("Monet isn't Manet, ils sont différents"). It's cultured whimsy, with gently funny parodies intercut every so often with her art history lecturer persona. She goes for breadth, rather than depth, in her targets, and some of the lyrical remixes only last a couple of verses once she's stumbled upon her killer rhyme. 

Actual art buffs may find the references a little too broad, but for everyone else it's an enjoyable and educational waltz through both modern and historical pop culture.