A ridiculously charming post-apocalyptic tale about the only man who survives the end of the world
Image via Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Stuart Bowden’s She Was Probably Not A Robot takes audiences on a journey to a time and place in which all of us are dead. It’s a ridiculously charming post-apocalyptic tale about the only man who survives the end of the world.
In this energetic single-hander, Bowden doubles as both the aforementioned survivor and a 25,000-year-old alien called Celeste. Through hilarious physicality, detailed and imaginative storytelling and the creation of two very eccentric personas, Bowden keeps audiences enthralled throughout his hour-long Comedy Festival slot.
From his ghost-like entrance to some obscenely revealing costume choices, this actor knows how to maximise his physicality to ensure all eyes are on him. It seems as though his every gesture is designed to elicit a laugh from somewhere in the audience. A cocked eyebrow here, a pointed twist of the hips there; it all adds up to a thoroughly entertaining and clever performance that touches on deeper themes than our protagonist would have us believe.
We journey through the story of how a quite unremarkable man survived an apocalypse that wiped out the rest of humanity. Bowden takes us step by step through the happenings of that fateful day, for the most part of which he is attached to a blow up mattress. This mattress accompanies him around the stage and into the audience, and forms a surprisingly stable base for some ambitious centre stage belly flops.
In a particularly disturbing scene, Bowden will have audiences believing he is making out with a severed head. It’s grotesque yet effective. Bowden’s ability to describe actions in detail ensures his audience enjoys a vivid experience of the story, even though much of it is told rather than shown.
Bowden’s portrayal of the slightly oddball alien character is delightfully endearing. The alien speaks in a shrill and hesitant tone and her eyes constantly dart from side to side inside a silver helmet. She has no capacity to understand human emotion, yet she has created a surprisingly accurate replica of Earth that might just come in handy following the demise of the ‘real’ Earth. The story is just ridiculous enough to be absolutely charming.
Bowden is a talented theatre maker. His piece is punchy, he boasts some seriously decent vocal chords, does great things with looping vocals, and he manages to tell a completely absurd tale in a compelling manner. She Was Probably Not A Robot is an engaging and entertaining piece that is perfect for intimate festival audiences.
Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5
She Was Probably Not A Robot
Written and performed by Stuart Bowden
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Tower Theatre, Coopers Malthouse
23 March – 17 April
First published on
What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level