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Review: Brace Yourself at The Malthouse - MICF

Review by Naomi Cardwell


In pink pyjamas and platform crocs, Lauren Edwards looks as though she’s arrived fresh on stage from some kind of defiant, crisis-driven millennial slumber party - and I’m here for it. 


Directed by Claire Hooper, Brace Yourself is a stand-up show that dives right into the cringe of Christian school in the early 2000’s (apparently, we all went through that godawful Lady Marmalade era, it wasn’t just me), replete with memories of Drama Class, hormones, and bad, bad dance moves that aimed to win crushes over and succeeded only in weirding them out.


Edwards’ teenage years had the additional compound cringe of bringing with them scoliosis - an S (for “Sexy”) shaped curve in her spine which required that the teenager wear a medical brace for twenty-three hours per day. The brace is a focal point for Edwards’ recollections of cringy teenage awkwardness, as she hilariously relates encounters with stuffy old doctors, her relationship with the “straights” (straight-spined individuals, that is) and the overwhelming strength we all drew in our teenage years from being a bunch of delusional, dumb bitches.


Full of that signature millennial blend of nihilism and fuck-it positivity, Edwards is invested in finding and reclaiming her inner dumb bitch, and at fourty years old and rocking her pyjamas, oh my god can she dance. 


Edwards’ deadpan is as formidable as her dance skills, and the set is full of sardonic wit and easy, self-deprecating bathos. She’s a gifted storyteller, treating us to cinematic high-school anecdotes and flashes forward to the present day, where as a disillusioned Millennial with an X-rated set of X-rays and her mum doggedly following her on Facebook, she’s still trying to make sense of it all. 


Ironically, the show, whose title is predicated around disability, is staged at the very top level of the Malthouse theatre complex, and accessible only by stairs. If you can make it up there, it’s fascinating to see the iconic Melbourne institution from up among its rafters, and the tiny exposed brick room is comfortable and airy, with an excellent sound setup and lots of helpful staff available. 


By the end of the set, it feels like we’ve lived through Edwards’ youth with her, and it’s exhilarating to consider letting my own inner dumb bitch out for an airing. Outside, groups of punters are enjoying drinks in the still-warm twilight and queuing for various shows around the venue. The Melbourne Comedy Festival is off to a cracking start, full to the brim of ridiculously talented artists like Lauren Edwards, whose sexy spine keeps us laughing for days to come. 


Image Supplied

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