Billed as one of the must-see events of this year's Fringe World, Melbourne storyteller and comic Stuart Bowden's internationally acclaimed one-man show She Was Probably Not A Robot is a surrealist post-apocalyptic DIY theatre production for which Bowden has created everything from costumes to music.
The London-based artist has won rave reviews and awards in Australia and abroad with his previous one-man shows, The Beast and The World Holds Everyone Apart, Apart From Us as well as collaborations including The Lounge Room Confabulators and new show Le Flop. His website describes his style of physical theatre as raw and "acutely personal", a form he developed clowning.
"I do a lot of work clowning - not the circus clown thing - it's more a technique to connect with the audience. It's influenced my work a lot because now I'm interested in shows that change in front of the audience," he says.
"The audience influence the story and how I perform. If they're finding something funny I'll keep doing it, I'll build it and play with it and that will inspire me to go in different directions and maybe it will go into the show the next night."
She Was Probably Not A Robot tells the tale of a man who, depressed about a recent breakup, drinks himself to the point of passing out and wakes up to find the apocalypse has arrived. Luckily he passed out on an air mattress and has floated out to sea to become Earth's sole survivor.
"It's a really sad story but I like the fun of it as well," Bowden says. "He reimagines the world and how it could have been, gets back together with his dead girlfriend and then it gets really bizarre.
"There's a space alien that's been watching the Earth end. I play the space alien as well and the 'she' (of the show's title) is kind of the girlfriend but it's also the alien."
True to his DIY aesthetic, Bowden soundtracks the show live as it happens on stage, using a loop pedal.
"I really like this idea that I create the music for the show and underscore it as I go," he says. "I can keep adding layers and I like that the audience see the creation of the music on stage."