This year’s Melbourne Fringe sees Rachel Davis and Isabel Angus of Grisabel Comedy return to the stage in their new show, Edge!. Their last offering, All of the Things, was well received at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival earlier this year, and was about, well, everything. About wanting all of the things in a society that is now old enough and wise enough to know that greed is bad. About being self-aware enough to know how privileged you are, and about how we ladies really just want to live in a world where we don’t necessarily have to get married and have kids but don’t end up dying alone. Pretty deep stuff.
There is a common theme in the two shows, with smart lady Davis mentoring the naive but loveable child-lady (Angus). Edge! builds on the ideas in the duo’s previous show and is, similarly, anything but dumb. Isabel Angus plays YouTube sensation Stella—11 years old and the self-proclaimed queen of pop culture. She is an all-singing, all-dancing tween and, guided by her mother/manager (present only via bluetooth headset), she is about to leave behind her nice-girl image and get seriously edgy.
Although the show starts off slow, there are early glimpses of the comedic Narnia that lies ahead. Stella’s thanking of the traditional owners of the land is one of many clever and poignant moments in this thoughtful and well-formed piece. Under Davis’ skilled direction the show gains momentum, moving into Stella’s impressive sizzle reel, through an absolutely stunning and hilarious musical medley and into a manic, hysterical and initially rather disturbing three-way conversation between Stella, Rihanna and Katy Perry (all played by Angus).
Stella’s rehearsed persona is in stark contrast to her cousin Ashley (played by Davis), who lurks in the back row looking daggy and providing tech support for Stella’s on-stage extravaganza. Davis nails the deer-in-the-headlights expression and brings even more pathos to the proceedings when Stella berates her in front of the audience for not being a ‘real’ woman. (‘She doesn’t even wax her legs, arms, back or moustache; pluck, trim or thread her eyebrows … Diet, exercise, eat clean or eat only ham, like the dinosaur diet.’)
This is feminism gone seriously awry, and the reason it’s so funny is because it rings true. One only needs to look at Miley Cyrus’ VMA antics to see how far we have moved from the ideas of Steinem and Greer. Although the show must have already been written before Cyrus’ travesty of twerking took place, Edge! shows how Davis and Angus successfully managed to pin down exactly why it disturbed so many people so much.
Aside from the absolute charm that both Angus and Davis bring to their respective roles, the message here is king (or should I say queen?). As the final scenes depicted Stella’s world spiralling out of control, I was completely captivated by her dilemma. To be or not to be edgy? Watching her disintegration was undoubtedly funny but, like the best comedy, also black and confronting.
If you like to laugh but also like thinking, this is the show for you. Tragically booked out for its last few nights, Edge! will likely reappear at this year’s Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy festivals, so keep your eyes open for it. It is not to be missed.
Edge! has finished its run at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.