“I like talking because people can’t hear your spelling mistakes…” and so it goes on.
Rob Auton’s The Talk Show is an hour’s ponderings on life. On talking. On interaction. On caring about the minutia and stopping to think for sixty minutes that will hopefully, inevitably encourage you to stop and think for even longer and appreciate EVERY little thing.
It could have been a buddhist’s guide to happiness but there’s some incredible intensity, some moving moments, some silliness and some awkward audience interaction.
With such a small audience (around 70) Rob holds eye contact with each and every person for long enough that he appears to look right into your soul but just a few seconds later he’s questioning, ‘which came first, the elephant or the onion?’
He’s hoping for some great interaction and though the woman from the upper cave seating area (we’re in The Caves) shouts with such confidence in her undetectable accent, ‘onions!’, there doesn’t seem to be more she can offer.
Rob retorts ‘why?’ hoping for an explanation into the meaning of life but she again and again shouts ‘onions!”Onions!’
After a while I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering if this is the only English word she’s ever been taught.
My mind begins to wander off with an imagined conversation:
‘Are you okay?’
‘What do you think of the Edinburgh Fringe?’
‘Where are you from?’
Ah, such a simple life.
I’ve interviewed Rob before and he and his shows don’t disappoint.
He clearly enjoys audience participation and talking to his audience seems especially apt given the title of his show but I’m selfish. I don’t want to hear inane banter. I want to hear Rob. Just Rob.
The banality of sharing ridiculous and empty thoughts is the essence of this show.
The bearded orator is a pleasure to listen to and I could genuinely lie back and listen to him talking for hours, feeling cleansed and awakened by the end of each reading.
His ponderings are perfect for intimate (though somewhat dank and fousty) cave-type dwellings. A large space would feel ‘preachy’.
“The watch is the wristband to the festival of punctuality” echoes round the room and just hangs in the heavy air.
At this point and throughout the show you want to freeze frame and soak up the words before they drop into a chasm of echoing memory.
You’re also introduced to Rob’s Stewart Francis-type one liners, “The best place to meet a new person is the maternity ward.”
“Before mobile phones were invented people didn’t apologise for going into tunnels.”
It’s constant little nuggets for ‘so true’ thoughts floating in your head.
We’re reminded that a person’s mouth is their ‘language locker, ‘world wallet’ and ‘tongue garage’ so why not think like Rob and instead of thinking of yourself in the shower in the morning think, ‘I’m in the ‘hygiene booth’.
He says one review described him as ‘an unprepared best man’ but that’s an extremely harsh criticism unless being unprepared meant the best man’s speech was unleashed and free to roam. Dangerous at a wedding speech but not so here.
Previous show titles are Yellow, Hair, Sky and Sleep and his ponderings get you thinking in a ‘hug a person’, ‘hug a tree’, ‘hug some broccoli’, ‘hug some gravel from your tiny fish acquarium’ kind of way.
The intensity of some of his readings half-expect you to see a man crumble before your eyes, spontaneously combust or weep. Curl up into a ball and weep. It’s like watching a modern Shakespeare-type soliloquy with Ian McKellen or Benedict Cumberbatch delivering the lines where every word lingers.
He is truly a wordplay and thought-provoking genius and an experience not to be missed. Ra ra Rob.
Rob Auton is playing The Fancy Room at Just The Tonic (The Caves) 6.10pm on until August 26th.
review by Susie Daniels