She was Probably Not A Robot

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

26/04/2016 - 30/04/2016

Flick 2016 NZ International Comedy Festival

Production Details

Created and performed by Stuart Bowden

A lo-fi, DIY, off-beat, sci-fi storytelling experience; a surreal, soulful comedy about a decomposing world and a cosmic visitor. When the world ends in flood and fire, one man, asleep on his air-mattress, floats out of his bedroom window, through burning debris and out to sea to be the sole survivor and last hope for humanity.

Sublime storytelling and joyful physical theatre. 

“Phenomenal one man wonder show” ★★★★★ – Edinburgh Guide



Full Price $30.00
Concession $26.00
Group 4+ $26.00
Cheap Wednesday $24.00

*service fee may apply


1 hour.

Contains adult themes.


Comedy , Solo , Theatre ,

1 hour

Probably needs an Audience

Review by Matt Baker 05th May 2016

The only thing worse than seeing a bad comic, is seeing a good comic struggle. The Herald Theatre holds over 100 seats, but on the third night of his show, She Was Probably Not A Robot, comedian Stuart Bowden played to less than 20 people. This is no fault on Bowden’s part, in fact, he gives commendable commitment to the performance regardless of the incredibly quiet crowd, which, while should be expected of any performer, is not always the case. 

Bowden also has a particular charm on stage. He’s quick-witted without being cocky, confident without being arrogant, and friendly without being sycophantic. The only problem is that this predominantly narrative-driven show requires audiences to engage beyond the typically New Zealand laid-back “entertain me” attitude, which would be fine, if the story had more with which to engage. [More


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Review by Nik Smythe 26th Apr 2016

The stage is black save for a few glowing tape-marks and an electronic audio sampling device on the floor.  As we enter a simple, charming, whimsical ditty about going to the shops is playing and it takes a while for me to realise it’s being sung live from just behind the curtain by this modest production’s pseudo-bashful star as he directly addresses people as they find their seat numbers.

The lights go down and up again a couple of times and there’s a bit of awkward fumbling about to find the spotlight from under his large white sheet.  Then comic surrealist Stuart Bowden begins his story with a simple three-note tune and an eerie falsetto vocal accompaniment, reminding me how when I was young I thought opera singers were pretending to be ghosts.

In time revealing himself in all his glorious black leotard, beard and pink and blue headband, Bowden begins his epic tale at the end of the world.  Alone in his apartment at the time, his girlfriend having moved out, the ultimate catastrophe occurs while he’s ‘drunk and dreaming, like most nights since she left’.

Bowden is never in any hurry with his exposition, taking every opportunity to enrich the narrative with poetic detail.  With intense verbal and physical detail he describes his odyssey floating around the town and out to sea on his airbed, witnessing all the mass death and destruction that goes along with a global-warming induced apocalypse.

Live-mixing his theme music with help from the crowd, Bowden openly fusses about with the production aspect of his show, often re-playing segments that he feels weren’t quite right.  He never actually drops character – except almost once when he discovers the uniquely steep grade of the Herald’s auditorium during an extended clamber through the audience.   Oh yes, and when his airbed prop goes off-script, popping and deflating in the middle of some tempestuous acrobatics.

Soon we meet the play’s only other living character, Celeste: a nervous, chatty billions-of-years-old alien lady often mistaken for a robot man due to her square, metallic features, who has observed the earth and the struggles of humanity the whole time it’s been going on – and built a handy, accurate scale replica, you know, as a hobby. 

Further plot details are available to persons attending the play any night all this week.  Which I strongly recommend you do, particularly if you like comedy of the creative lo-fi idiosyncratic conceptualism variety, the likes of which I’ve not seen since Radar was fighting lizard-aliens with plastic sporks back in the nineties.

For all of She Was Probably Not a Robot’s mirthful absurdity, Bowden’s wistful earnestness also succeeds in causing moments of real poignancy. At times it seems like he really is the last person alive, and we’re just a pretend audience, products of his lonely imagination.


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