It’s incredibly hard to place Rob Auton’s new show at the Edinburgh Fringe but then again, it’s hard to place Rob Auton. He’s the perfect example of when the lines are blurred between comedy and spoken word – two genres that can be hard to tell apart. There’s a mastery to his words that goes beyond the average comic, but sometimes this breaks down into more straightforward storytelling.
His timing is always perfect, his humour bizarre yet accessible enough for audiences across backgrounds.
At the heart of his performance there’s the constant work of a creative’s brain: teasing out new and unusual ideas by reflecting on a phrase or concept (his first collection of poems, for example, was entitled Where There’s a Will, There’s a Dead Person).
It’s often said that over thinking is common in those who are creative. It’s suggested that this is why so many people who are performers, artists, actors and musicians deal with conditions like anxiety: they are constantly thinking about everything - this helps them create but can make them worry over issues that aren’t there.
This nervous yet charming analysis is at the centre of what Rob Auton does: he takes one idea and stretches it into a one hour show. So far he has created The Yellow Show, The Sky Show, The Water Show, The Sleep Show and now: The Hair Show at Just the Tonic’s Caves venue. Essentially the show is Rob Auton surreally examining hair in many different forms: his hair, how it grows, how hair is considered in society. If there’s a way to think about hair then by the end of the show Auton will have managed it.
No one is there for hair though: they’re there for Auton who switches from bizarre anecdote to existential crisis at the drop of a wig-covered coat. His timing is always perfect, his humour bizarre yet accessible enough for audiences across backgrounds.
He’s come up with a new formula here that is bold and clever in its simplicity: do a show on one thing. It’s entertaining enough to join the classic Edinburgh Fringe realms of A Young Man Dressed as a Gorilla Dressed as an Old Man Sits and Rocks in a Rocking Chair for 56 Minutes and then Leaves: it’s beautifully surreal and weird in that it does what it says it does on the flyer.