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TALKING ABOUT TALKING WITH ROB AUTON AT SOHO THEATRE

Rob Auton clearly has a devoted following. This is evident when, upon asking the audience who has seen him before, over half whoop and cheer. As he says, the people who like him tend to come back and those who aren't so keen do not - and he sure is glad it's that way round. Auton's previous shows have covered an array of topics such as the colour yellow, water and the very existence of faces and his style falls somewhere between comedy and spoken word. This is someone who clearly loves language and its endless possibilities whether to amuse, teach or provoke thought. 

In a world that is so focused on technology and immediate gratification, it's uplifting to hear someone like Auton talk about the importance of finding joy in the things we take for granted. He urges us to consider onions and what they were doing before people starting digging them up to throw in risottos. And just a pause for a second to contemplate an elephant and the mere fact that such an incredible beast exists on the same planet as we do. He also manages to inspire a genuine sense of tension as he gets audience members to vote on whether or not a tic-tac can fit through the hole of a polo (no spoilers, try it yourself). More people should be amazed like this. So next time you're angry because you're stuck in a rainstorm, consider the fact that that rain is basically teardrops from a cloud and revel in it.

A particularly heartfelt moment comes from Auton imagining how his parents might have felt when getting ready for their first date together. He speaks with such sincere emotion and affection in a way that recognises his parents as their own individual people with lives, thoughts and dreams before him. This sense of empathy is even evident when he anthropomorphises leaves falling from a tree and the emotions they might feel as they are cruelly cast aside. If this sounds corny, it never comes across that way. He makes it work and only the most hardened of cynics could ridicule it.

Auton's sense of wonder is visibly infectious and his natural warmth radiates throughout the room. Upon finishing the gig, he announced he would be on stage to sell books and meet the audience and about half the crowd flocked to greet him. There's no pretension or falsity here; he cuts a figure who hates meaningless small talk, loves to be amazed by the world and invites everyone to share this with him. There isn't a comparable performer on the circuit these days and in a world gradually turning more cynical and angry, voices like Auton's should be louder than ever.

Rob Auton is at Soho Theatre until May 25th 2019. Tickets are available here