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Stuart Bowden - She Was Probably Not A Robot: A wacky, if uneven, survival story

By Terry Blain

Stuart Bowden is an Australian with a fuzzy beard and a tennis headband, whose weirdly titled show She Was Probably Not A Robot was a succès d'estime at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe festival.

On tour in Belfast, it's lost none of its quirky sense of fantasy: when you enter the auditorium at the Mac, Bowden is onstage already, concealed under a white bedsheet and crooning operatic vocals to the accompaniment of a bleeping electronic keyboard.

Quite why he's doing this isn't obvious. It soon emerges, however, that he is the sole survivor of some all-encompassing global catastrophe, and is going to tell the audience the story of his survival.

In the course of it, environmental themes are passingly touched upon – it's 2040, the ice-caps have melted and the sea is "angry" – but left strangely undeveloped. There are poignant moments as a broken relationship is reflected on, but overall the script is an uneven mix of self-referential wackiness and fleetingly deeper emotions, which don't sit easily together.

Some tightening of the writing, eliminating repetition and sharpening the thematic content would make the good ideas in Bowden's piece even better.

THREE STARS

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