Doing a show about all the things that have scared her has given Nai Bowen both a title and an accompanying costume for her show. By the end of it, she’s a fairly bedraggled version of the Disney character, ginger wig all matted and falling in her eyes, but this only heightens the humour.
There’s no Disney here though. The jumping-off point is that she’s “braved” going solo. Finally, she’s plucked up the courage to do what she first promised herself she’d do in 1998, and brought her own show to the Fringe. Or is she brave? It turns out to have been a choice thrust upon her; her comedy partner from double act Titty Bar Ha Ha simply went off to have a baby. And what else is she brave about?
Bowen’s prop for the show is her “feely box”. Audience members have a grope around in her box (cue an “ooh-matron” or two), and select a mystery item which represents one of her fears or something she’s bravely overcome. No spoilers as to what they are here, in case you too want to have a rummage in her secret hole.
It makes a good framework for what otherwise is a simple, straightforward theme. Props (literally) to her for snazzying up what could have been straight stand-up. The only hazard is that in the half-dozen or so “brave” moments she explores, some are stronger than others. With no control over the order they come out, the flow of the set is a hostage to circumstance. Thus, the best moment – a take-down of NHS mental health treatment set to I Will Survive ends up in the middle today, rather than the showstopper it could have been. Other moments, like her fear of jelly, end up elevated to a prominence the material doesn’t quite justify.
Brave‘s a well-prepared show and Bowen’s an engaging presence with the odd hint of the late Caroline Aherne about her. No bravery needed to be an audience member – you’re in good hands.