Katie, a.k.a. “Iceland”, likes order. She works in a library and writes household rotas. Unfortunately, life is anything but orderly and when we meet her she is in emotional free-fall as she faces one of the most testing days of her life. She has been nicknamed “Iceland” as a child, as sometimes, like a lot of us, fear freezes her.

How to be Brave by Sian Owen was a sell-out for its last performance at Le Pub community arts space, Newport, and the house was jam-packed, with standing room only tickets sold on the night.

Laura Dalgleish delivers a whirlwind performance, brimming with emotion, as we follow Katie on a journey around her home town of Newport on a stolen BMX bike. Her performance is as compelling as it is versatile as she plays herself as a child, herself on good days and bad days, herself overtaken by anger or grief.

Although the play is a one woman show it is by no means about one woman. She is very much part of a formidable female line of off-stage characters, from her daughter to her now departed Nan. The play is very much an exploration and celebration of the city of Newport and of the strength of the communities who have found and continue to find courage in adversity.

But the overarching themes are universal and explore some big questions. How do we find stability in a chaotic world? How do we support our own and others’ mental health? How can we be brave?

Moving, challenging and ultimately uplifting, the show received a standing ovation as Katie, with help from friends and family, finally finds her bravery and inspires the audience to find theirs.

By Gemma Govier