When your first thought after being diagnosed with a chronic kidney disorder is ‘I wonder how long it will be until this is funny?’, you have officially passed The Bravery Test. You will also have to have been dangled out of a third storey window by your elder brother, but that is par for the course in Angus Dunican’s sweetly sentimental show about childhood scrapes and scuffles. An ode to older siblings everywhere, Dunican takes a look back at his own childhood, growing up with an elder brother who saved him from as many tight spots as he got him into.
Dunican is a likeable and endearing host, which goes a long way in a show of this nature. His style is more stand-up storytelling than stand-up comedy, although there are definitely laughs to be had. He occasionally veers off course, sacrificing the flow of a good story for a random tangent, but mostly his tales of falling off things are concise and well-told. He includes some great nuggets of nineties nostalgia and there’s a brilliant skit about the film The Never-Ending Story, which will reassure anyone who has ever sobbed as Artax sinks into the swamp of sadness.
It felt like Dunican had more to say about his family and would have benefited from separating his material regarding his illness into a different set. Whilst his recounting of the diagnosis is interesting, it feels like a big leap between childhood escapades and being twenty-two in hospital with a chronic illness. This disconnect is, unfortunately, a bit jarring. Overall, The Bravery Test is an honest and enjoyable examination of the way families shape us and the unpredictability of life, told with heart and humour.