Review By Lisa Lanzi
I admit I’ve become a convert this Fringe and totally turned on to original, astute female-led comedy! Tonight was no exception when I was able to experience Mandy Nolan and Ellen Briggs in Women Like Us where women’s stories and experiences take centre stage, and in high definition! No delicacy hides the truth here and the audience were with the women, all the way.
For me, comedy has to be relatable, far from vindictive, witty, relaxed, and intelligent. These two women certainly bring the goods with subjects ranging from the perils of motherhood, buying bras, country town antics, waxing adventures (not for the faint-hearted), and more politically themed anecdotes. Indeed, Mandy Nolan stood as a Greens candidate for Richmond in the recent Federal election and her passion for human and female rights is certainly contagious.
When a comic is comfortable in their own skin, the audience can relax and feel like they are in safe hands. Fortunately both Briggs and Nolan emit a relaxed vibe, as if they have been on stage forever and are not afraid of their glorious female physicality. Alongside some self-deprecation, there are acutely observed moments of political savvy that absolutely resonated with the audience. Living life as a female is also a hot topic for both, and the hilarity was infectious with various audience members happily sharing a few thoughts on their own personal situations.
Ellen Briggs delivered more body-centred, home-targeted comedy revealing a few truths about family, husband, and relationships. She had a laid back style and was able to communicate a funny story with economical language and some strategic physicality. The comedy flowed perfectly from story to story and her connection with her audience was exceptional.
Mandy Nolan is a tall, imposing presence on stage with her sparkling wit and passionate political stance. Her comedic style is a little more confronting and peppered with political asides, which I adored. For an audience it is possibly a more challenging style to contend with and certainly delivers quite a few truth-telling moments. Not least, about the devastating floods that affected her beloved Byron shire and the after effects for the people she connected with both as a community member and politician.
Both women are feminist in their outlook, but Nolan is perhaps more radical. And we absolutely need to keep hearing from people with that kind of commitment to social justice and the neglected plight of women’s issues. Comedy is a fine forum for delivering cutting social commentary and Briggs and Nolan are exactly what our society needs; calling out injustice, inequality, and the perils of being female within an undeniably patriarchal world.