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My Robot Heart by Molly Naylor
Published on Tuesday, 14 May 2013

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5 stars

The Warren (venue website)
Run Ended
Reviewed by Darren Taffinder

 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.

As I’m writing this review of Molly Naylor’s My Robot Heart, I’m listening to the Middle Ones on YouTube. The quirky female folk duo form part of this wonderful show about love, and their accompanying songs really help capture its whimsical mood. At times deeply intimate and very poignant, at the end I left with a spring in my step, despite the grim weather outside.

It’s a simple show. Naylor tells three interlocking stories, which she wrote after going through a bad break-up with a long-term boyfriend – and becoming obsessed with a Japanese scientist’s attempt to create a robot that can love. There’s 11 year-old Harry, who’s just moved to a new school; his 29 year-old step-sister, who’s about to get married; and her father, a folk musician living in Glasgow, who’s found out he has eighteen months to live and is terrified of giving the father-of-the-bride speech at his daughter’s wedding. Each character has their own prop: a backpack for Harry, a veil for the bride-to-be, and a glass of Jameson’s for her dad.

Along the way we learn how to judge your relationship based on the type of wardrobe you own, the amount of time you need to extend your stay if you accidentally run over your brother’s new girlfriend’s dog (36 hours), and why it’s best not to cut and paste your wedding speech from the Internet.

I’m told that the Middle Ones often appear live on stage for this show, but for the performance I saw at the Warren it was just Naylor. I can see how live music might add to the experience, but its absence certainly didn’t detract from it. Naylor has a great, warm presence, part storyteller and part stand-up, and all three stories have their own unique voice and tone. Throughout the show she takes detours into personal anecdotes, and I particularly loved her musical references. I really want to scroll through her iPod.

All right: at times it’s a little twee, and I’ll admit it, I’m a sap. None of the stories are particularly shocking, and it’s certainly not something I’d recommend to my harder-edged friends. Think Radio 2 rather than punk rock. But for me it was perfect: I just enjoyed it from start to finish.

A lovely show by a great performer, that makes you want to run home to your loved one and invest in a big, sturdy wardrobe.

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