Two years ago, Welsh company Dirty Protest Theatre brought Alan Harris’ one-man play Sugar Baby to the Paines Plough Roundabout. It was a great show – a frenetic, fast-paced caper set in Cardiff.
Its offering this year, Siân Owen’s How To Be Brave, sets out similarly, but never reaches the same heights as Sugar Baby.
We’re in Newport this time around, following thirty-something single mum Katie as she careers around the city, fleeing from some unspecified family trauma, desperately trying to summon up the courage to face it. It’s whirlwind ride – she steal BMXs, smashes up civic monuments and stabs a man with a fork.
It’s fun and funny, with a pleasing sense of place. Laura Dalgleish brings a boisterous, bruising humour to the role of Katie, too, but Owen fails to focus on the story’s underlying themes – the post-industrial life of Newport, and what it takes to be brave in the face of a crisis – and her narrative tips over from scrappy into scatty. Her woolly conclusion feels like a bit of a cop out.
Catherine Paskell’s production is a bit of a disappointment – and another example of a Roundabout line-up that’s failing to fully fire.