Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“Dirty Protest: Strong Identity for Excellent Work Reflecting Contemporary Wales”

At Dirty Protest

How to Be Brave- Dirty Protest , Roundabout @ Summerhall , August 23, 2019
At Dirty Protest by How to Be Brave- Dirty Protest Dirty Protest does not travel north of the Tywi so I have had small sight of the company over the years. And that is regrettable. Tim Price demonstrated a craft and commitment to theatre that suggested that he might have been up there, alongside the likes of Nina Raine or Jack Thorne. He is one of the potential talents lost by Wales, little wanted in the one-party state.

But Dirty Protest still bounces:

From British Theatre Review

“Dirty Protest theatre have forged a strong identity for producing excellent work reflecting contemporary Wales and its people. How To Be Brave enhances that reputation, with Sian Owen’s brilliant play. Katie has gone from being a confident little girl who feared nothing to a single mum who worries about everything, and now lives back with her mum in Newport. On the day that her daughter has an operation to repair her heart, Katie flees throughout the town, unable to face the day.

It’s a tremendous performance from Laura Dalgliesh, vividly bringing to life not just every character, but the town itself. As she struggles through mud, nicks a BMX bike and faces people from her past, Katie realises she is going to have to be the bravest she has ever been. Her nemesis, police officer Gemma Tanglethwaite is a wonderful creation, and you will want to cheer Katie through her day. It’s worth the entry to find out why her nickname is Iceland and I’ve Got The Power!”

“It’s a hymn for women everywhere and a love letter to Newport. Brought to life by the performance, the inventive choreography by Bridie Smith and Catherine Paskell’s inventive direction, this is a warm cwtch of a play that had me wiping away tears of laughter and pride. Don’t miss it!”

From What's On Stage

“Siân Owen's play focuses on a mother, Katie, struggling over the course of one day, with the prospect of a very ill daughter, it's a coming-of-age story of sorts, but this time with an adult in the frame.

“This struggle is no "I'm going to sit in a corner and weep about it" kind of struggle.
Katie's day consists of basically entirely freaking out and running around Newport like a complete maniac, stealing a bike, being nasty to old classmates, falling down a mudslide and doing a dance on a roundabout. It's Katie's fear that propels her to avoid sitting still, her thoughts and feelings whizzing non-stop through her mind, making it impossible to think calmly or rationally about anything that she does.

“Laura Dalgleish is on her own onstage, bringing, as is often the case with a Dirty Protest production, an entire city to life. She bounces around the Roundabout stage with incredible energy and a real sense of truth. Dalgleish is superb to watch, almost incoherent with her fear at times, whilst at others poetically lucid. And Catherine Paskell's direction leaves everything to this consummate performer.”

But Owen's play labours too much on the journey and not enough on the arrival and so when the day comes to a close, it's all over too fast. Still, there's no denying that it's highly refreshing seeing a story about the realities of motherhood. It's a narrative that isn't covered enough.

From Edinburgh for Kids

“The play touches on many themes; the need to look both back and forward through the generations to seek our strength; the trauma that comes from bullying and lasts into our own adult/parenthood; the kindness of community and the terror that comes from mothering -the fear of the damage that one may or may not do.

"Sian Owen was amazing, and is clearly very talented, though sometimes the humour seemed a bit too buoyant for the chaos that the character was going through. The script was funny and thoroughly enjoyable but at times didn’t reflect the reality of the characters nervous breakdown. Overall though, a great one woman piece of theatre that holds your attention all the way through.

"Here’s what the young reviewers had to say:

12 year old Eden, 4 out of 5 stars : “I was crying and laughing at the same time the whole way through. I enjoyed this immensely”

15 year old Jack, 4.5 out of 5 starts: “How to be brave is witty and full of emotion and full of character all the way. Every moment has a feeling. It is a constantly evolving story told by a constantly evolving character”

From Edinburgh Guide

“How To Be Brave manages to be both very funny and deeply moving. With enormous energy, Laura Dalgleish spins around the circular stage with a performance that is as much physical theatre as storytelling; the tale proceeds at a frantic, galloping pace as Katie throws herself down a mudslide, dances wildly on a traffic island, and careers around the town on a stolen child’s bike, chased by a police car.”

Reviews, cited with thanks, can be read in full at:

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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