Hoo Hah House's production Brave Face is by far the bravest and powerful production I have seen at the Fringe this year. With nudity and violent themes from the start it is an adrenaline fuelled hard hitting black comedy straight from the offset.
Adrenaline fuelled hard hitting black comedy straight from the offset.
Written and performed by Everleigh Brenner her attention to the emotions evoked around sexual abuse is incredible, emotive, and uncomfortable. From the unconventional relationship that Em has with Connor, the narcissistic on/off cheating boyfriend whose violent bedroom behaviour leaves the audience under no doubt that it's non-consensual and lacks caring, to the ex appearing back on the scene seven years after he first raped Em, we wonder why he hasn't learned what the word “no” means yet!
Brenner’s writing has bought to the forefront one of the effects that can be bought on by trauma, which is often unnoticed and unspoken about, where an abused victim can turn into an abuser to rebalance the equilibrium and take back a level of the power and humanity that has been “raped” from them.
A QR code is available as you leave the performance. Brenner explains that it has information and helpline links on it. I forgot to scan it personally and cannot say exactly what it contains. This shows a very responsible and mature approach to the production by helping or educating anyone further who might have been affected by themes raised in Brave Face.
National statistics taken from the government website report that one in five women have reported to have experienced some form of sexual assault. However, I believe that this percentage to be much higher as many crimes still go unreported. With a 37% prosecution rate for female victims of rape the justice system has a long way to go before it brings satisfactory justice to “all” victims.
For a large majority of those who will go to watch Brave Face it will leave you with uncomfortable feelings as you walk away from the performance. It is exactly what you should be feeling as sexual assault and violence is an uncomfortable and harrowing experience for the countless victims who have been subjected to these horrific crimes.