The last thing I anticipated from a comedy show was to leave intears, to bawl my whole manipulated being out across the street from the Factory Theatre, where Michelle Brasier had just exposed her soul in the nicest possible way. I should have calcified my heart the moment when she and co-creator Tim Lancaster her partner (also providing music), invited the audience to talk after the show. And hug.
Average Bear, starts and finishes with Brasier’s Average, an adorable ursine who, like many of our beloved bears, wears no pants. With that curious introduction, Average slips away to bring her hired Woman to host pre-hibernation drinks. Woman, shy at the outset, rallies with a soaring voice that indisputably gives credence to her talent — and nostalgia with musical numbers like “The Fingering Shed,” an anthem to exactly that. (Yes, that place from teenage subterfuge.)
Brasier’s journey from wishing to have experience, to having them, is told here with thoughtful and layered nuance, made somehow smashingly hilarious with her trained voice and the appearance Average’s commentary. It is a an unexpectedly sweetand compelling story, weaving despair and humour with subtlety and surprise.
The sometimes contradictory idea that grief and silliness can live together is embedded in the show, as it employs the tropes of both. Brasier is not your average bear. And by the end of this heartfelt, moving show, we all sort of feel like average bears, and if not ready to hug her, maybe at least our other average bears. I did. Thank you, Average Bear. Long may you not wear pants.