Before Us

Edinburgh Festival Fringe review (theatre): Before Us at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61). Review by Susan Mansfield

Stuart Bowden first came to Edinburgh as one half of the Lounge Room Confabulators, and has since gone on to make several one-man shows including last year’s She Was Probably Not A Robot. But this latest piece is surely silly and whimsical even by his standards.

Bowden, dressed in something which looks a lot like a green sleeping bag, plays a creature which lives under a rock and is about to become extinct. The species has no name but, confusingly, seems to be able to paint pictures, power-walk and go to parties. The early performance I saw was dogged by mistakes and technical hitches, and not everyone will enjoy his tendency to require cringeworthy audience participation.

But at the same time, in the middle of all this there is an emotional journey going on to do with loss and recovery and affirming the worth of who you are. The musical component is bigger than with some of his earlier shows, and the poignant expressions (Bowden is very good at these) and sad little songs help to create something which is homespun, uneven and often confusing, but also at times weirdly magical.

Until 24 August. Today 8:10pm

Originally published in The Scotsman

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