The Sleep Show at the Roundhouse
Rob Auton’s surreal performance of The Sleep Show at the Roundhouse is part standup comedy part poetry reading and part experimental theatre. This ethereal, talented, eccentric, very funny, very real, very human artist takes the viewer on a tour of his view of the world of sleep, in every facet. More than comedy about the topic of sleep, however, it is an exploration of the psyche and a message of hope and encouragement, as Auton asks his audience to close their eyes and imagine.
With just a few pads of scribbled notes in hand, Auton sleepily ponders every aspect of slumber: “Sleep is part of a popular package deal called life… every night we’re all on a sleepover… I’m not a fan of sleep… I don’t have poster of it on my wall… How do sheep get to sleep?… What do tortoises dream about?… If only Hitler had been sleepier”.
Appearing to be around 23 years old, it is surprising to learn that Auton is a decade older and used to work in advertising. He has that lost quality of a youth wandering in the woods looking for meaning. He is in awe of the world, philosophical, whimsical, and supremely sensitive to its nuances of beauty and pain.
With a monologue that seems to metamorphosise from comedic stand-up to audience therapy to deeply thoughtful poetry and back, the viewer is laughing hysterically one moment, eyes closed seeing their life before them the next, followed by pin-drop silence as they listen intently to Audon’s serene and gravely meaningful verse.
Auton has stated “My shows definitely come from amazement,” and “I find life very hard. I’ve been really lucky in my life, but I still find it brutal. I find it very, very difficult to look at the news – it has a real effect on me.” To spend an hour or so with an artist who provides a unique, unconventional view of existence is refreshing. But he is also an artist who cares. In The Sleep Show, his message is that we should not let life pass us by; that we must be alive and appreciate every moment, working and fighting for the best lives we can achieve.
The Sleep Show was on at the Roundhouse as part of the Last Word Festival on 4th June 2016, and is touring the UK until 9th September 2016, for further information or to book visit here.