Rob Auton: The Talk Show at Soho Theatre
Rob Auton swerves between jaunty stand-up and existential spoken word in his latest 60-minute monologue at Soho Theatre, The Talk Show. The run follows the comedian’s similarly wacky series of shows since 2012 on the colour yellow or, simply, hair. This time, by connecting a random web of mental chatter, real encounters and imagined conversations, the Edinburgh Fringe favourite poses poignant questions about what it means to communicate with one another, and with the universe.
Always random, sometimes stilted, often with gusto, Auton navigates simpler talk-based themes such as first dates and what falling leaves say to each other, before shifting into several outbursts of deeper musing on climate change and mental health. Many audience members, it seems, are returning to see him again. He even acknowledges at the end of the set that his off-beat style may not be for everyone, but those who get it keep coming back.
This does mean that, as a newbie to his work, the show often feels like one is being left out of an in-joke, or the only one at a party who isn’t incredibly high. Nonetheless, the performer deserves credit for cramming so many big questions and thoughts into a one-hour show – all recorded on the pile of notebooks he carries around to an endearing effect.
Soho Theatre’s downstairs is full for The Talk Show, which flies by and garners both enthusiastic laughter and moments of respectful silence. The latter, where Auton bears his heart on his sleeve and makes us question the interactions that define us, or those we missed out on, are nicely executed. Sometimes, however, they feel thrust in at odd moments, leaving the audience a little unsure of the boundaries between comedy and poetry. This, it seems, is quite the point – but somehow these transitions still feel slightly off.
Overall, this is a good hour of distraction and contemplation, at a buzzing, low-cost venue. The passion with which Rob Auton brings his audience together in acknowledgment of our shared humanity at the end is also genuinely moving. Whilst there may be reservations about how well this style transfers onto the stage, the performer seems like he’d be a great laugh down the pub, or, as he admitted himself, giving a fairly under-prepared best man’s speech.
Rob Auton: The Talk Show is at Soho Theatre from 21st until 25th May 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.