Rob Hudson Needs to Talk
As I entered Alphabetti for tonight's show I was greeted by a sign on the door that sais I should be aware that the performance contained partial nudity. Another sign reiterated the message on the door to the bar...I get the feeling that someone has complained somewhere down the line. I don't recall seeing such signs when I came to see Jon Coleman trying to be a man and there was a fair bit of partial in that. Still, I was a little bit concerned for Matt Miller - Alphabetti is never warm at the best of times and tonight it was actually snowing outside. I feared he might catch his death. I needn't have worried - the partial nudity was very partial as it happens (just his bum showing).
The auditorium is declared open and we file in - collecting a rug for our knees on the way (like I said, snowing out) and choose a seat. Alphabetti seats are mildly famous - infamous? - a mishmash of chairs - some padded, some not - and there was a friendly scuffle in the front row over a "squidgy" chair. I can understand that - I have sat on one of the lesser padded seats and it can be distracting. Tonight however I chose with care and sat comfortably on red velvet for the hour of the show. And what a show! I almost don't know where to begin, as you can probably tell by the previous preamble! This is a fifty minute one man show and it is packed full of laughs, observations, advice, onions, sadness, pain, more laughs, self help, lies, more onions, questions, relationships, friendship, heartbreak. And laughs. And darkness. It soars up into the brightness of a new relationship, and it plumbs the depths of its break up.
Matt Miller leads us through the relationship between Rob and Sarah - how it all began, and how it all ended. Rob needs to talk. Sarah has broken his heart, and for a while ruined his life. But he's getting better. He is better thanks to his mother (she likes to help) and his self help books: Louise Hay's "You can heal your life" and "F**k It, the Ultimate Spiritual Way". Yes, it is a real book, written by John C Parkin. You can borrow it from the library, as Rob did. And you can breathe in and release the stress from your life by naming the stressor and then, instead of breathing out, you say F**k it. Rob invites us to try and asks if anyone has anything that is causing us angst. Either no-one in the audience has any anxieties or they are too shy. Surprising really because they appear to be a group of drama students. So, to help out I share the current propensity for parts of my car to drop off, making life a tad difficult lately. We breathe and F**k it. We laugh. I feel better.
Rob however has taken a good while to feel better. Sarah has not been a perfect girlfriend. She has not been entirely honest or open and this has taken her to a dark place, a place that Rob understands, and he endeavours to help her out of it. He helps her so successfully that she moves back to London. She is still not very honest and open. Another book helps him to understand Sarah. This one is not from the library though. This one is Sarah's diary and it is full of truth, and lies. Truth that she has not shared with Rob, and lies that she has. The truth and lies break him and he spends a very long time getting better.
This show is a conversation with the audience, and at the end we are left with a decision - he needs our advice on what to do next, we are invited to help him decide by placing our "pay what you think" envelopes in a "burn" or "return" bucket. Whichever bucket gets the most votes will be the final course of action for Rob. As I put my vote in the bucket it seems most people have gone for burn. I hope he follows the advice - he really doesn't need to give Sarah any more ammunition. Burn the book, Rob, and close the chapter.
Rob Hudson has talked for the last time at Alphabetti tonight, but am sure he'll be talking in other venues. If you get the chance to hear him go along - he's worth a listen.