Michelle Brasier @ Assembly George Square

Michelle Brasier's Average Bear is an impeccably timed, unflinchingly genuine rollercoaster ride

Review by Anita Bhadani | 25 Aug 2022
  • Michelle Brasier

Michelle Brasier plays two roles in Average Bear: Bear, and Michelle. Bear, a gentle character, is our introduction to the show and it’s a sweetly surreal one as she talks us humans through some of the particulars of ursine life. She introduces us to Michelle next, riotous and full of verve, inviting us on a musical journey of her upbringing and welcoming us all to sing along in unison.

It's a disarming and comical start to the show, and as Michelle’s story unfolds (with the occasional interlude from Bear), joy sits alongside heartbreak, humour intertwines with pain – and these feel ever more like a sucker punch when our guards are down. The narrative rollercoaster we are taken on, in a sense, mirrors the unpredictability of life itself. In life, there is no neat cohesion: no foreshadowing before your life is irrevocably changed.

Musical interludes are peppered throughout the set’s narrative: these are as hilarious as they are (very) impressively belted out by Brasier. Tim Lancaster, her partner onstage and in real-life, plays guitar throughout, and they banter on stage at parts, adding a genuine and charming further dimension to the show’s narrative. Brasier’s delivery throughout is impeccably timed and paced, bringing an infectious liveliness to the highs, and an unflinching genuineness to the lows.

Throughout Average Bear, the theme of wide-eyed wonder, of the wish to see and be and experience everything, is returned to again and again. Wonder need not be the sole domain of the naïve, as Brasier shows us. Even amidst heart wrenching pain, joy and connection can be eventually found – and amidst bleakness, it’s all the sweeter for it. A well-deserved standing ovation greets the show’s finale. It’s hard not to leave with a tear in your eye, be that from laughter, emotion or, most likely, both.

Michelle Brasier: Average Bear, Assembly George Square (The Box), until 28 Aug, 6.25pm, £10-12