Stuart Bowden: She Was Probably Not a Robot - review

by Alice Harbourne / 28 April, 2016
Jarlsberg cheese, fettuccine and Coldplay; omniscient "lady alien" Celeste has observed the best and worst of planet Earth from afar. As the apocalypse dawns, her powers of observation prove invaluable to its apparent sole survivor, our storyteller for the evening, Stuart Bowden.

Switching between the cardboard-adorned character of Celeste and hesitant, likeable narrator - as well as creating a live, loop-pedaled soundtrack - the Australian theatre-maker is a literal one-man-band, off-setting poetic whimsy with gloriously macabre humour throughout this one-hour piece. As a breather from conventional stand-up it's as refreshing as the "sea's wet arms" (which Bowden spends a considerable time trying to escape in this show), with benign audience participation and a carefully worded script that at points threatens tear ducts with its sentimentality. 

Bowden's tale invites us to consider the things we can and can't change about the world: acts of God (or God-like aliens), the inertia of mankind and the powerlessness of unrequited love. If that all sounds a bit deep, don't worry, Bowden's stretchy physicality, the gorgeously endearing intonation of his character Celeste, and slapstick antics with an air bed provide ample immediate laughter. Lo-fi, well paced, resourceful and imaginative, you're unlikely to come across another comedy show this lovely.

She Was Probably Not a Robot, until 30 April, Herald Theatre. Book tickets

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