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My Robot Heart, Battersea Arts Centre

Devised and performed by Molly Naylor

Pros: A sweet, honest and funny show. A very pleasant and engaging production.

Cons: Although the music was a nice personal touch, it would have been great to see more interaction with the folk duo.

Our Verdict: A very nice show but a short run. Keep an eye out for future shows.

Courtesy of The Battersea Arts Centre

Anyone who has ever been to the Battersea Arts Centre will know that it is a rather exquisite building.
Over a hundred years ago, this was the town hall of Battersea and it is now a grade II listed building with beautiful architecture. Unfortunately, like many old establishments, it can be a nightmare to keep warm – especially when Britain appears to be entering a new ice age. It was therefore nice to receive such a warm welcome when entering My Robot Heart, with folk duo The Middle Ones providing live house music. When Molly Naylor came on, she immediately broke the ice (and the fourth wall) with jokes about the temperature. The rest of the show maintained this friendly, discussion-based ambiance and made for a heart-warming, thoughtful and thought-provoking show.

Naylor wrote this play after splitting up from her partner in a long term relationship. She was trying to better understand the nature of love in order to cope with her decision and to do so she imagined 3 characters – a young boy, a bride-to-be and an older man – that all have a wedding to go to. She examines each in detail, and through their inter-related stories, she explores different aspects of love and fear and the relationship between the two.

Naylor’s style of writing is engrossing. Her script is very honest, but also humorous and at times very powerful. Her characters are relatable, especially given the subject matter – everyone who has ever had a good friend, been in love or felt regret will recognise themselves in some aspect of the show. Not only that, but the script is intelligent and layered, and leaves the audience-member reflecting about their own relationship (or lack thereof) when leaving the BAC. Top work from Naylor.

The one-woman performance is punctuated by musical snippets by The Middle Ones, who were a band that Naylor listened to a lot during her own breakup and this adds a very personal touch to the show. The interludes underscore meaningful parts of Naylor’s monologue, and especially in the later parts of the play, the two young musicians take a more active role as side characters in the action described in the monologue. It would have been nice to see more of this! Naylor’s own performance is very engaging. It must be very difficult as a performer to present a piece of work which stemmed from an event as personal as a breakup, and at times the strain does show, but using the subtleties of script, a sharp sense of humour and her own anecdotes, Naylor carries the show gracefully.

To sum up, My Robot Heart is a nice production, which is engaging, funny, sweet and honest. Although it would have been nice to have more participation from the musicians, the play provides a thought-provoking and entertaining evening out. Unfortunately, by the time this review is published the run at the BAC will have almost ended, but make sure to keep an eye out for future productions from Naylor and her lovely musicians.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

My Robot Heart runs at The Battersea Arts Centre until 28th March 2013.
Box office: 0207 223 2223 or book online at https://www.bac.org.uk/bac/shows_list

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