Saturday, 29 April 2006

The Rehearsal, Umbilical Brothers, April 29, 2006

The Rehearsal by Umbilical Brothers
Melburne International Comedy Festival
Athenaeum Theatre I, April 29 and May 6, 2006
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 29, 2006

The central conceit of the Umbilical Brothers’ new show, The Rehearsal, is cunningly simple; it’s not a show, it’s a rehearsal. The idea works most of the time but it is the final 20 minutes that deserve accolades.

The Umbilicals, David Collins (curly) and Shane Dundas (bald), perform on the cavernous Athenaeum stage with only a large screen behind them. They chat charmingly and casually to the audience, informing us that this is “just a rehearsal”.

They promise Drama, Action, Romance and Magic. In fact, they wield a little, pink magic wand to prove it.

There is some of the familiar Umbis’ mime and microphone sound effects. When David, in trepidation, answers the mime-door to greet the dissatisfied mime-sponsors, he is dragged bodily off stage to be beaten and then tossed back on stage – in mime, of course.

There are a number of recurring gags. Their impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a few appearances, there is a plant in the audience who keeps messing up his cues and Dave insists on doing extra gibberish jokes.

Each time they refer to playing the Rod Laver Arena, a circle of light appears on the rear screen and they play a finger puppet show as if playing on the Arena as tiny dots in the distance.

David and Shane milk their idea of Velcro World for plenty of visual gags and they get mileage out of working with the audience “on several levels”. The audience on level seven is pretty glum evidently.

Dave says goodbye to his annoying, squeaky-voices alter ego who just will not go away.

However, it is the on-stage, live video cam that provides the final hilarious material. The pair uses the camera to create theatrical illusions. They overlap live images of their real selves with their projected selves so that space, time and reality are totally and hilariously distorted on the screen and stage.

The final video gags are achingly funny and cleverly wrought. David and Shane do battle with two giant, angry, martial artist teddy bears; the angry sponsors.

Of course, the teddies are, in the real world, two teensy hand puppets projected in monster-size - Mafiosi teddies. The ensuing Jackie Chan fight scenes between monster teddy and Dave are a treat.

The crowd shrieked and cheered the teddy fight. The slow start was forgiven.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment