4 ½ stars
Stuart Bowden takes us on a journey, all the way to our own planet via our emotional cores, in When Our Molecules Meet Again* Let’s Hope They Remember What to Do (*Probably in Space). He crafts a pensive, lonely and, finally, uplifting story with a silly solemnity usually reserved for a child performing a play to their parents.
This show is heavily on point with Bowden’s usual style. His work features musically driven stories in which he creates a soundscape using a looping effects deck, a small Casio keyboard, and his gorgeous singing voice. This time, he brings along a banjo uke and plucks it sparingly to spin together a little ditty of a melody. His songs, built in front of his enraptured audience, become hauntingly, achingly beautiful through some simple, layered instrumental and vocal work.
In this new show, Bowden delivers a clear message about the future of humanity. As he takes the stage wearing a charmingly home-crafted costume to depict our alien protagonist and narrator, he tells a lonely tale that's rich with symbolism. It’s also hilarious, with the performer’s masterful use of comic timing being a key component of his work. His miming imbues the show with delightfully ludicrous physical comedy. It's purposefully crappy, and slightly campy, and all the better for it.
Bowden’s shows are essentially a microcosm of life experience. Life is funny, and sad, and lonely, and unifying. Life is sometimes shoddily put together, sometimes interrupted by an urgent toilet break. Life is also hopeful, and painful, and joyful.
The performance we saw ran a little over time, but the show didn’t suffer for it at all. Nothing dragged, nothing felt belaboured.
As we’ve come to expect from a Bowden show, we left the theatre feeling joyful, and hopeful for the future. As we looked up into the February evening’s sky, we couldn’t help but wonder if the story we’d just seen, that we’d just been a part of, would one day come to pass.
Tickets available from the FRINGE WORLD website.