Helen Keen: Robot Woman of the Future

Wednesday, 3 August, 2011

Science fun at the Etcetera Theatre

Science nut and comedy person: Helen Keen

Helen Keen’s show is about science and its predictions.: the fact that we have no hoverboards or teleportation, but we do have the internet and hand-held computers. A self-confessed science nut (and stamp collector), she is bubbly and charmingly self-effacing. Her delivery is all her own, but it has something of Boris Johnson and Sir Patrick Moore about it, a kind of breathless innocent enthusiasm, which makes her act more endearing and underscores the gentle humour about the failure of futurists and scientific prediction.

Audience participation is encouraged and a full dialogue develops when (having already sung “Happy Birthday” to the word ‘robot’ – apparently 90 years old) we are invited to guess whether projected pictures of individual women represent ‘futurists’ or ‘felons’ – a game that is much funnier than it sounds.

Helen Keen is also from the north of England, so the intrusion of face flannels and the concept of ‘a good wash’ as a result of a need to cool down seems entirely appropriate.

Props include a tin-foil covered table, on which stands the Acer laptop which in turn projects the various images, and Helen Keen’s trademark cardboard rocket, with its magic panel – a screen where ‘Miriam’ projects shadow shapes. It is all rather charmingly British somehow, even down to the righteous indignation that it was the French who put a cat into space, something which is only de-fused by the depiction of poor Felix on the stamps of the Republic of Niger. The artist clearly having a bad day when undertaking this particular creation.

The ‘robot woman of the future’ turns out to be a sex toy called Roxxxy, who looks more like a septuagenarian corpse in drag than something from the Valley of the Dolls. It is the final nail in the coffin of the undiscovered byways of science, and we all go home feeling we have learnt a little and had a very good time as well.

Writer/performer: Helen Keen

Reviewed Tuesday 2nd August 2011

(c) Michael Spring 2011

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