Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

How to be Brave

Dirty Protest Theatre

Genre: Drama, Feminist Theatre, Fringe Theatre, One Person Show

Venue: Summerhall Paines Plough Roundabout


Low Down

How to be brave when your world is falling apart? Sometimes you have to face your past before you face your future. When Katie was little, she was brave: climbing trees and riding bikes too fast. Now Katie’s a mum, she must be brave in a new way. Determined her daughter will keep the fierce magic she arrived into the world with, Katie sets off on a mission around Newport with a stolen BMX, a policewoman with bad hair, and a pigeon in a bag. Siân Owen’s one-woman play is about what we’re made of and learning to be brave when your world’s falling apart. This hour long one woman show is frantic and formidable but sadly let down by the script.


It’s a big day for thirty something simple mum Katie. Living with her mother to ease the load, this is only temporary we’re told as her daughter is about to go into hospital. Her perfect awe-inspiring daughter. Katie can’t protect her ‘little one’ in there. In fact, she feels more like a child herself trapped in her mother’s home. She can’t cope and it seems she hasn’t been coping for some time. She needs to be brave but this doesn’t come easily when you stand to lose everything you hold dear.

Laura Dalgliesh holds the small empty round stage of the Paines Plough Roundabout effortlessly darting from vomitorium to vomitorium pulling us through her day of hell with her. Instead of facing her fears she runs and rides through the streets of Newport sometimes chased by her mother in a fiat panda. She falters and falls, lashes out and relives her past as she makes her way towards the inevitable. 

The story sadly falls down in some obvious areas. Some small blazing obvious niggles, she jumps into a river only to use her phone afterwards. However it is not just continuity that’s the issue here. The conclusion of the play feels rushed and the emotions of the other characters slightly forced to fit with the narrative. There is a nice build towards the end but we completely leap over and ignore the mental health aspect of the piece. Katie’s daughter isn’t the only one who could benefit from our glorious NHS. Katie’s behaviour is erratic, dangerous, illegal and aggressive but it feels like we gloss over that because she was just ‘finding her bravery’. Once we reach the climax of the piece, the whole thing is wrapped up in a couple of minutes. It feels like this was originally a full length piece which has been hastily cut down for the fringe and as such loses some of the flow of the first half.

That being said Dalgleish is enigmatic and engaging as she whisks you from place to place on that bare stage creating a bizarre, ramshackle world that she must navigate to be there for her daughter. Fun and fast paced.