Stuart Bowden: She Was Probably Not A Robot
Stuart Bowden @ Tuxedo Cat – Raj House – Room 1
8:30pm, Sat 22 Feb 2014
I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Stuart Bowden’s work since I was lucky enough to be invited to a performance by The Lounge Room Confabulators; his solo show that year, The World Holds Everyone Apart, Apart From Us, was an incredibly atmospheric storytelling experience. But I must admit to being surprised to see him collaborate with Dr Brown in a kid’s show; however, after seeing She Was Probably Not A Robot, I can kinda see where Bowden was heading there.
Because Bowden really, really reminds me of Dr Brown in this show.
It’s not just the bushy beard and eyes that shine with the confidence and knowledge of a thousand ways to make you laugh with just a tilt of the head; it’s in the style of his performance, too, with comical mime playing a significant part in his presentation. And that seems almost deliberately at odds with the tone of the narrative: after a worldwide catastrophe, Bowden wakes to find that he is the last living person on earth.
He searches in vain for other survivors, and resorts to conversing with Veronica (his dead girlfriend’s head on a hobby horse) and Jasmine the dog, before encountering Celeste – a being from another planet who takes on a life of her own as Bowden twists his voice into a quirky alien tongue.
As with all of Bowden’s work, there’s an overwhelming sense of whimsy to proceedings – thinking back to the dark nature of the content, that in itself a pretty impressive feat. His performance – especially his physical presentation of narrative mime – is impeccable… though, as noted previously, almost Dr Brown doppelgänger-ish. But She Was Probably Not A Robot is also a far more mature piece of writing than his other shows; there’s no lapses into lowbrow humour, no insertion of cheap laughs. And that makes this dark, touching, absurd, and beautiful journey of a man just seeking some normalcy a real treat.
(45) Stuart Bowden: She Was Probably Not A Robot: Whimsical quirkiness told with Dr Brown-esque physical humour. #ff2014 #ADLfringe
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 23, 2014