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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Robertson’s Crusoe

Company Gavin Robertson

Genre: Physical Theatre


 Zoo Southside


Low Down

 "Following 2011’s sell-out comedy A Space Oddity, this contemporary, cinematic, physically precise solo creates an urban, sometimes funny and contrasting world where a hitman, Alzheimer’s sufferer and single white male share their experiences of being alone – interwoven with the classic Crusoe story and an exploration of Big Bang Theory. Bold imagery interweaves Crusoe’s survival, the urban atmosphere of an American city, a nightclub and a comic one night stand all supported by an evocative original score." Gavin Robertson returns to the Fringe, directed by Nicholas Collett.


Gavin Robertson presents a solo show that ranges from Bounce Theory to Alzheimer’s, relationships between people and between stars. Robertson’s Crusoe stands at the centre, as do we all, individuals, beached in an inexplicable universe, connected yet alone, each stranded on our island of uniqueness (and separateness), a sum of our memories and perhaps, nothing more.

From the first moment, this hour at Zoo Southside invites us to sit forward and watch. Robertson places his characters carefully, and delineates them well. Tight, meaningful lighting and soundscape; A simple gesture and we look to where an invisible object or person becomes visible in our imaginations. He points, we see. It’s creation realised on stage with simple genius.

Much of this piece is an unspoken, assumed collaboration between audience and performer as his mime and movement create objects, people and places before us. This is what Gavin Robertson does with such ease and flow. At one point (and perhaps lasting a bit too long) he creates an entire city before our eyes (and magically in your minds-eye too); and he does it with his eyes, his hands (which can even invoke a believable and beautiful sunset), with minimal gesture and loving physical movement.

And it is there, both before us, and in the landscape of our imagination. Anyone distracted or not giving full attention in the audience, will lose the thread. Certainly for this select audience, Robertson held us for every second. 

This is a collage of characters that feels mostly centred on a man with Alzheimers. It is touching, powerful and Brechtian. I caught myself encountering myself in the mirror of this piece on more than one occasion.

In places this is truly electric, Gavin Robertson creates worlds with his hands, dramatic tension with a turn of his head. This is rare, priceless performance. There’s comedy too as the lives of different characters swirl into focus, then melt back into the tableau.

This isn’t the classic tale of Robinson Crusoe. But it’s a clever and often wise treatment of man in the cosmos, of alone and together, of love and loss, of memory and identity, of bounce and stability. It’s playful, full of invention, and yet also based in some very traditional and well-worn mime and even clowning.

I sense that Robertson has unfinished business with the script, that he is still developing the content. However, this is still classy, textured and beautifully precise physical theatre, well written monologue, amounting to a must-see solo show.