Review: Brave Face (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Hoo Hah House Productions have brought Brave Face to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – I’m watching the version available on-demand Online@theSpace following a run of in-person and livestreamed shows.

A “pitch black comedy about sex, trauma and the female experience”, this show focuses on Em, who has objectified and brokenhearted too many times. Now it is her turn to take on the world and become a figure of fear.

Split screen work and inserts try to present the show as it would be experienced in person (where a screen appears above writer- performer Everleigh Brenner). With film, images and animation alongside text messages and phone screenshots, we have a wider perspective of Em’s world.

However the adrenaline is necessarily dialled down in digital form: this is a show that I suspect would hit harder if you were in the room, and the lack of close-ups does weaken the power of the piece.

Image from Kickstarter for Brave Face

With nudity, abuse, trauma and sexual violence and assault being the main focus of Brave Face, it is far from an easy watch, especially as Em moves from vulnerability and victimhood to avengerand abuser.

As a one-woman show, Brave Face keeps a strong momentum through its forty-two minute running time. It sometimes veers into the realms of the horrific but Brenner displays a clear understanding of the themes and the responsibilities around creating a show about them.

I cannot fully critique her performance from a distance, but her Em has a rapport with the audience and a jolting physicality that changes as the story progresses. As the used becomes a user, moral questions populate this show. What would you do?

Fringe rating: *** (and a half)

Brave Face is streaming at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 30 August: book your tickets here. For more about Everleigh Brenner, visit her website.

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