Stuart Bowden has been doing this for a long time. Since his 2011 breakout collaboration with the now-legendary Doctor Brown, Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger, he has consistently produced odd little pieces of theatre that combine comedy, music, storytelling and clowning. He's been to the Fringe many times before and has toured internationally, so it was a joy to catch him at the Underbelly in Bristo Square this year.
The story is gentle and sweet, with endless tangents, asides and non-sequiturs.
Our Molecules is a gentle little piece about an alien called Natalie. After chasing his partner, Yimka, across the universe for seven years in a spaceship controlled by his toes, he's arrived on Earth, with the express desire to kill all humans. The story is gentle and sweet, with endless tangents, asides and non-sequiturs as Bowden stumbles (intentionally) over his words, just about keeping a lid on Natalie's frustration and naive bafflement with the universe. But the story almost isn't the point here, it's Bowden's engaging performance and the scenes he builds on stage with minimal props, low-key mime and subtle lighting cues. He fills the room with his melodious voice, plucked banjos and 80s Casio keyboards, and by the end has us all singing too.
At the core of the piece is a simmering disappointment (almost anger) at mankind for being so selfish, so harmful to the planet and so wrapped up in our own shit that we fail to even look at those around us. Society moulds and shapes us to be uncaring and cold, and it sometimes takes a funny little alien with a sheepskin rug and flappy little hat to help us realise that. "When you are born they tell you who is your enemy and who is your friend," goes one of Bowden's songs.
The opening and closing songs about all matter and all objects just being "atoms pretending to be things" had me thinking the most. There was a beautiful dance between the profound and the trivial in Our Molecules that made for a gently enjoyable hour.