Life Lessons with Michelle & Gemma

By Sofia Monkiewicz

“I love and appreciate you.”

“You are a wonderful human being.”

These positive mantras are only one part of what make Michelle & Gemma the lovable duo they appear to be in their new show, which combines their bright, endearing personalities with some mostly-helpful hints on how to lead a successful life. Life Lessons With Michelle & Gemma runs through seven steps that they believe will help maintain a well-rounded lifestyle if followed, for the benefit of each individual audience member and for the good of humankind.

Best friends Michelle Mammana and Gemma Duncan love bubbles, colour-coding everything, and, most of all, each other. They are sugar-sweet and filled with a childlike giddiness that fuels this high-energy comedy festival endeavour. This excitable pair have the potential to be mistaken for children’s performers (minus the innuendo and tales of dating mishaps), and their on-stage immaturity is what keeps the audience smiling throughout. We enter the performance space to find the duo engaged in a mini dance party for two, and once everyone is seated in the tiny ACMI Games Room they immediately launch into a playful attempt at educating us on what not to do when it comes to confrontations, manners and etiquette, and updating your Facebook status.

The premise of this show is certainly entertaining. Lessons in platonic spooning and the benefits of placing your elbows on the dinner table are creatively quirky, while a short audience-participation friend-making game keeps things interesting. Having said that, it was often difficult to engage with the fast-paced, back-and-forth interaction between Mammana and Duncan. The show was not so much a flowing conversation as it was a heavily scripted performance pretending to be a friendly chat between friends. The script was well-written and the lines were perfectly timed, but that was the issue; they were too perfect. It was impossible to take the girls’ feigned spontaneity seriously, and no aspect of their performance really came as a surprise; the over-rehearsed interactions were very unnatural.

Aside from the distracting scripted humour, Michelle & Gemma’s spirited routine was a rainbow of light-hearted fun. Drama nerds to the core, the girls conclude with some amusing banter about subconscious twins and a cutesy acoustic ditty, which tied up the performance nicely. Life Lessons With Michelle & Gemma is not the funniest show in the festival, but it is definitely a fun experience and you will no doubt leave with a smile on your face.

Life Lessons with Michelle & Gemma is on at ACMI – Games Room until April 20