A Robot in Human Skin
- Eddie Harrison
- 9 August 2017
Nicole Henriksen returns in a one-woman show about anxiety
Nicole Henriksen is a real character. She's an Australian comic who has performed a solo show Makin' It Rain about her experiences as a stripper. Now, she's back with A Robot in a Human Skin, in which she focuses on her inner self. This new show is not comedy; billed as 'an honest and personal exploration of mental health', this one-hour piece allows Henriksen to expose and discuss her own anxiety, a condition she's been living with since she was a child. Not just the same anxieties that everyone feels, but the crushing, crippling anxiety that can stop a girl from wanting to live her life at all.
Henriksen addresses the subject wearing a bra, pants and a cardboard-box covered with silver-paper and shaped like a television on her head. It's not until the end of the show that she explains why. But the strange costume also has a function from the start, in that it puts a surreal context onto her descriptions of growing up with her condition, and counter-points her decision to avoid going for cheap laughs in her comedy. Henriksen has clearly agonised about how to present herself here; the result is a show which is nothing if not honest, and goes some way to blowing away the stigma around mental health issues.
If that sounds like tough going, Henriksen has the charm to smooth things over. Closing with a ukulele version of 'I Can See Clearly Now' (a simple song which inexplicably the audience didn't seem to know any of the words to), Henriksen starts her show with 'All Star' by Smash Mouth (a complicated song which even more inexplicably her audience seemed word-perfect on.) Between such musical offerings, Henriksen discusses her influences (The Mighty Boosh, Fall Out Boy) without going into much detail. But Nicole Henriksen is an antidote to Fringe blues; she's real, she's raw, and she's honest to a fault.
Underbelly Med Quad, until 28 Aug (not 15), 8.30pm, £10–£11.50, (£9–£10.50).