Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Stuart Bowden – Before Us

Tuxedo Cat’s Perske Pavilion, Sun Feb 16

Just about everything Stuart Bowden does in Before Us is inappropriate. Not in any shocking way, or in any way that is embarrassing. Quite the opposite – it’s actually quite endearing. His costume, his dancing, a lot of his singing, the almost stream of consciousness monologue – all inappropriate. And the interesting thing is that when you string together a series of inappropriate activities you kind of get a new genre that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Bowden enjoys talking about death, and this show is loosely built around the story of his father’s death, and our own mortality. Using live looped audio as a backdrop to his strange tales Bowden speaks for all those who have ever felt insecure or vulnerable; for all those who’ve contemplated the big questions about being alive. And dead. Like who were my parents? Why I am here?

He has a charming knack of using apparent nonsense to get us thinking and feeling more deeply about life. It was interesting to notice how the audience moved from behaving like they were at just another comedy show laughing and giggling at every weird quirk or throwaway line, to realising that that there was something deeper going on that was more enjoyable and more meaningful than just cheap laughs.

By then his naive charm and sense of magic had the audience under his spell and you felt the connection between the absurd and the profound, the beautiful and the mysterious - to the point where we were all quite prepared to join in the marvellous final scene and celebrate being alive!

Do something completely different this Fringe and surrender to Stuart Bowden’s spell of weirdness. You will laugh. You may even cry. But you will leave feeling better about life. This play is just a joy.

Star Rating: 4.5

(also published on The Clothesline)

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