Review: Reform – Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2022 (VIC)

Written and performed by Michelle Brasier

Review by Justin Clarke

If there is one thing we can say about Reform, it’s this: you have to see it. Armed with a sharp wit, fast and precise dialogue, and an accomplished singing voice, Brasier brings a story that you won’t soon forget – a tumultuous journey to purchase a Pilates reformer off Facebook marketplace from Jacob and retrieve her $500.

What follows is gripping storytelling on toxic masculinity and male privilege. Brasier doesn’t hold back – making you reflect on your sense of self and rally in your hatred for masculine manipulation and gaslighting. But this isn’t a one woman show that drags men through the mud as revenge, instead Brasier humbly depicts her empathy for her situation and the person Jacob turned out to be.

There were moments that resonated with every person in the audience which was clear by either their audible gasps, groans or enthusiastic jeering and cheering. I shrunk deeper into my seat when Brasier took aim at those who religiously follow The Barefoot Investor’s advice, and when she revealed her distaste for private school boys – not all of them, but definitely most.

Visual gags took the form of a slideshow at the back of the stage. Seeing the original cover design for the Barefoot Investor made us gag – Google it. Verbatim text messages were shown and ID’s displayed with names and features blurred (for legal purposes, this isn’t a true story) to rousing cheers and raucous applause.

Tim Lancaster on guitar and Jacob-voicing-duties brought great chemistry and some hilarious moments of improvisation. Lancaster’s use of voice for Jacob made his obnoxious hetero white male persona visceral and fully formed – which kept us on side with Brasier the entire journey, despite her decisions you couldn’t help but groan at.

This is a lesson in bonobo chimpanzees, how to show empathy to people who don’t deserve it, and how to use one hell of a story to create an award-worthy performance. Brasier is all of us who have trusted someone we shouldn’t have, gone out of our way to help someone we shouldn’t have, or bought a Bunnings tub to put in the shower in place of a bathtub despite our extra flesh pressing up on the sides.

Brasier is honest, raw and powerful all at the same time. It’s clear why the Aunty Donna boys work closely with her time and again. She deserves to be a household name – and you need to see this show lest you too fall into the hands of a Jacob.

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reform plays at the Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne until 23 April. Find tickets from $23 – $30 here.

Michelle Brasier’s 2021 show Average Bear had it’s final performance in Melbourne on 17 April. She tours Reform to the Perth, Sydney, and Brisbane Comedy Festivals throughout May and June. Find dates and tickets here.

Follow Michelle Brasier on Instagram @michellebrasier. Find her on your TV in Aunty Donna’s Big Ol House of Fun, Why Are You Like This, Sean Micallef’s Mad as Hell, and many others.

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