Stuart Bowden is the last human alive after an apocalyptic storm drowns the Earth’s inhabitants. Drifting about the ocean on an inflatable mattress, he struggles to survive while having chats with the moon and yearning for his dog and ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile Celeste, a deranged model-making alien whose main project is a full-scale replica of the Earth, has been in orbit for the last 25,000 years and is about to touch down.
The narrative trajectory of She Was Probably Not a Robot is simple and predictable, and you’ve probably already guessed the ending. But that’s not the point. What makes this show worth seeing is the way Bowden combines bittersweet poetics and clownish silliness in telling the story.
As the protagonist makes his way in this post-apocalyptic world, eating fish, drinking rain, looting corpses and riding a hobby horse, he takes time to reflect on the beauty and strangeness of humanity, capturing a raft of the tiny, poignant details and moments that make up a life. The melancholy sweetness is tempered by a truly funny performance – Bowden romps through the audience seating with an air mattress strapped to his back, frequently lapses into outright surrealism, and displays a marvellous talent for physical comedy and carefully choreographed slapstick that’s on par with Celeste’s model-making skills.
He hits just the right balance of funny and sad, knowing exactly when to pull back on the wistfulness and punctuate it with something grotesque or absurd. Bowden has crafted a superb storytelling show and while it has a fringe vibe it’s deserving of a much wider audience.