Creator and Performer: Stuart Bowden
Reviewer: Hannah Rowlands
Beards have long had associations with manliness. A sign of seriousness and maturity. When used with skill, they can also become a mask, heightening and hiding expression. This is the case with Stuart Bowden who, with expert sense of comic timing, uses his beard to full theatrical effect. Similar in some ways, to comedian Zach Galifianakis, who also accompanies his meanderings with live music in a minor key, yet Bowden is much more childlike. His stories are imbued with fantasy, imaginative wonder and the dazzling mock confidence of the awkward and vulnerable.
Despite playing a number of characters, essentially Bowden is interested in how human beings cope with being alone, a fitting subject for a one man show.
Bowden tells two stories which compliment each other. Both shows are set in the not to distant future. The first tells the story of a man who ‘wants to save the world from loneliness’, so builds a rocket out in the desert in order to find another world. The second tells the story of the last man on earth, floating at sea on his air mattress and the robot who has decided to recreate another earth; ‘No big deal, just a project’. Similar themes and images run throughout; visions of an apocalyptic future, death and destruction, man surviving on his own in the wilderness, some talk about wee and vomit. Which all sounds rather bleak but he tells each story with a wicked sense of pathos; ‘I’ve lost my meaning. Maybe it fell out of my wallet. Maybe it’s under my bar stool. No, just a peanut.’ Bowden has a firm grasp on how to create an understated image using the simplest means. Using nothing more than a few boxes, some instruments and a loop pedal, he takes the audience to the end of the universe in the profoundest of simple ways. Not easy, even with a beard.
Runs until: 3rd November 2013