Review: The World Holds Everyone Apart, Apart From Us

by Jane

The world is old, and tired, and sad, and lonely.  The air is choked with pollution; as the world sits alone in its galaxy, with only the cold, dead moon to keep it company.  How can anyone on earth be happy, when Earth itself is so doleful?

Avian knows this.  Avian knows that the earth can’t be happy when it is so lonely, so alone.  He knows that he can find the earth a friend.  Company.

But in order to save the earth, Avian himself must prepare.  So he goes to the desert, where he lives alone and builds his spaceship, The Story.  This is the story of The Story, and the story of Avian’s three benders – the three times Avian bent the rules, and spent time with another.  It’s the story of the end of the world, told as the best stories of the end of the world are told: it’s the story of one.

On the small stage in Tuxedo Cat, Stuart Bowden creates for us The Story, a tree, a house, out of black milk creates.  He climbs up with his ukulele, he sits with his keyboard, he blows into his harmonica, he peddles the sound loop, and he sprinkles the show with songs of Avian.  Deeply personal and personable, behind his wickedly adorable smile, Bowden narrates his life as Avian and his three passing partners.  Responding to the audience, or responding to the sounds of an ambulance driving past the building, Bowden completely understands the power of the shared space of theatre.

With the softly frolicking melody of a children’s story filled with vodka and pissing jokes, The World Holds Everyone Apart, Apart From Us broke me: I finally saw a play and thought, “this has to be a film.” Not a feature in your megaplex, but the soft sketches of a delicate cartoon, in compact episodes, interlaced between the shows and the stories of your everyday life.

Bowden’s language is so visual as it plays through alliteration, through metaphors; he paints a world simple in its design, easy to understand, and yet adorned with the beauty of language.  Seeing it in the tiny Blue Room, with just Bowden to sell the story and the piece of craft which it is, was wonderful.  But to partner his words with images would be something beautiful indeed.

The World Holds Everyone Apart, Apart From Us is the simplicity of the mammoth: of the end of the world, of first crushes, of life-long loves, and of pain and beauty in solitary.  Of one-man shows to tiny packed audiences, and how mighty that can really be.

Stuart Bowden presents The World Holds Everyone Apart, Apart From Us.  At the Tuxedo Cat, Blue Room, in the Adelaide Fringe.  Season closed.