Better Dead than a Coward is an hour of frenetic storytelling that sits somewhere between intimate and claustrophobic.
[star rating = 4/5]
Laura Davis is full of charisma and childish energy yet manages to avoid coming across as naive. The miniscule venue, ‘Bob’s BlundaBus’, exaggerates Davis’ manic onstage presence as she bounces between topics in an almost random manner – going so far as to discuss starting a section of the show before dropping it without mention.
These topics, including the search for peace amongst weirdos and the frequent deconstruction of her own show, ends up falling into the political and climate dread that seems to have flooded into near every fringe show this year.
About halfway through the show, Davis comments that critics frequently deem her use of prolonged stillness, and even silence, in the show tedious. On the contrary, it feels like these pauses give the show room to breathe while also providing contrast to the more hyperactive moments, enhancing the performance’s absurdist edge.
In fact, Davis’ constant subtle unorthodoxy is perhaps her most distinctive feature, giving the show a lot of character without feeling intentional.
While her chaotic presence will be a delight for most, the wilful lack of structure might come across as grating to others.
Those willing to sample this bizarrely joyful and intense hour of entertainment will come away uplifted and hopefully having let some of Davis’ appreciation and enthusiasm for the little things rub off.