By Kristopher Hinz
Black humour is the silver lining in this coming of age tale with a twist.
Perfectly paced for drama throughout, Rachel Edmond’s masterpiece When You Wore Braces is two-person theater at its best.
Edmonds debut play is unafraid of exploring the darker moments of sibling relationships and the direct and indirect ways that those interactions shape our world as we form our identity during our formative years.
The nature of both permanent disability and impermanent injury are major themes and handled in a sensitive manner despite the play’s overall dark tone.
The pain woven through Edmond’s script jumps out at the viewer from the first act and their efforts are perfectly conveyed by the well-rehearsed and chillingly precise emotion of both Edmonds and co-star Sonia Marcon’s performance.
With a plot centering on two sisters getting to know each other again after a long absence, there are just as many heartwarming moments as bleak ones in When You Wore Braces. The audience is left smiling as often as there are gasps of shock as the sisters work through loss, deep secrets and hidden emotional pain that goes just as deep as their immediately apparent physical disabilities.
It is the tendency of both characters to come across as equally warm and abrasive that keeps the audience on the hook from the start and there is a palpable sense of tension in the air as the plot begins to thicken and secret after secret is revealed.
The broad range of relationships cleverly into Edmonds script mean that the characters hold some relatability for all audience members as they look back on their youth. It touches brilliantly on the pain of introspective thinking and drawing back on old wounds, with the chief lesson that we cannot heal from our past without first going back to it.
Unexpected humour is an evident strength of Edmonds as they surprise the audience with a witty one-liner cleverly inserted at the most tense moments. Right when one should be most on edge, one can’t fail to find themselves grinning with surprise as Edmonds takes the meaning of comic relief to its literal extreme.
In a brilliant debut play, Edmonds runs the gamut of playwright, lead actor and driving force and keeps the audience on the hook from start to finish. The themes are extreme enough to keep us watching with bated breath while the tender moments leave us with a sense that both sisters remain down to earth in their struggles for meaning as they seek to progress in adult life by healing the trauma of youth.