Stuart Bowden: Our Molecules @ Underbelly Bristo Square

A story of space, love and humanity, with a woolly alien

Review by Jon Stapley | 14 Aug 2018

Kitted out in some kind of wool sack, with his legs on show, Australian solo-storyteller Stuart Bowden makes a striking sight. He’s an alien, named Natalie, who is visiting Earth partly to find his estranged love and partly to kill all the humans, if he can be bothered. He narrates his journey to us in what seems at first to be entirely a series of bizarre non-sequiturs, and turns out to only be mostly that. Natalie is a grumpy storyteller, a perfectionist who wants everything exactly right, and his testiness with the audience, his own story and himself reliably provides some of the best comedic moments.

Special mention is warranted for Bowden’s music. His soundtrack to his story, partly crafted onstage, is a terrific lo-fi blend of ambient synth with delicate folk, and when he sings he reveals a melodious voice with a really quite decent range. He’s got a natural flair for a complex vocal melody (so much so that we struggle to get the hang of the final singalong), and watching him expertly manipulate his pedals with his toes while simultaneously saying some utter nonsense into his microphone, while also dressed as an alien that looks like a sheep… well, there’s no good analogy for that. It’s impressive.

There’s a point to it all, of course. The stupid costume, tinny lo-fi music and bizarre storytelling thinly mask a genuine, fiery anger at the way the world is going and the way people are treating each other. Of course, Stuart Bowden is no more equipped than anyone else to deal with the problems of the world, but by dressing as an alien and telling a nonsensical story for an hour, he does manage to temporarily make it a little nicer.

Stuart Bowden: Our Molecules, Underbelly Bristo Square (Dexter), 2-26 Aug (not 13, 20), £11.30-12.30

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