Dalton Trumbo's Reluctant Cabaret
Dan Renton Skinner
Dara O Briain
Dead Cat Bounce
Deborah Frances White
Delete The Banjax
Dominic Elliot Spencer
Donnchadh O Conaill
Visual comedy absurdist, who won both the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's main prize, The Barry, in 2012
Dr Brown: Befrdfgth
Like the shark in Jaws, Dr Brown makes his presence felt long before you see him. As the audience waits patiently for the show to start, you might spot a ripple in the stage curtain, or spy him peeking coyly through a gap in it. After a couple of minutes of this, he cloaks himself in its comforting fabric to investigate his viewers more closely, causing a triffid-like stalk to spout oddly from the back drop.
Also like the shark in Jaws he unleashes chaos once he emerges from the darkness, for this is merely a scene-setter, both a signal that this is no ordinary comedy show and a device to lull the audience into the false sense of security that Dr Brown is as scared of them as they are of him.
For the unaware, the bearded man dressed like a grieving widow is both a mime and a clown, thus setting himself the challenge of overcoming not one, but two common preconceptions of poor-quality entertainment. To complete the triple threat, he’s a children’s entertainer too, but as we’ve said in a previous review, his kids’ offering at this festival is quite the delight, too.
After the entertaining opening sequence, Brown seems at a loss of what to do. With his little-boy-lost expression, he tentatively grasps at recreating a couple of movie scenes, wordlessly of course, before acting out other quick sketches – from recreating a bullfight to miming a marathon runner taking on water.
Although this elicits a few wry smiles, there is little remarkable here, and you’d be forgiven for wondering what all the Barry-nominated fuss is all about. But then in a watershed scene about halfway through the hour, all becomes crystal clear.
The turning point comes when he easily persuades the audience to ‘ring, ring, honk, honk’ along as he mimes a bicycle ride. We have somehow become tacitly complicit in his odd little world, now giving him carte blanche to indulge in all manner of heinous audience participation.
I’ve previously found him over-intimidating in this, but here his transgression of personal boundaries seems entirely playful. And those punters he selects to join him on stage are all willing players, revelling in the attention even when the good Dr is silently admonishing them for getting the wrong end of the stick. And he’s not above firing his participants, too, exiling them back to their seats when he loses patience with their inability to follow their brief.
What is most impressive is the careful structure behind all this apparently random madness. He might act as if each idea has just occurred to him, but the action proves nicely circular. The laugh of the penny dropping is a regular feature of Brown’s shows, and it’s magnified here, as your patience sticking with the often repetitive early scenes is repaid with interest.
Add in the bizarre and unique scenes he creates, which will stay with you long after the hour is out, and you have a clear highlight of the festival, with a much wider appeal than its avant-garde sensibilities might suggest.
|Date of live review: Tuesday 17th Apr, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
Wednesday 11th Apr, '12-
Friday 3rd Dec, '10-
Friggin Brilliant show! Watched him at Soho Theatre, one of the funniest things I have ever seen!
The most refreshing, innovative and inspiring comedy I have ever seen. Go.
A brilliantly consistent act who is so subtle at awkwardness and absurdity. The way he taps into tension is wonderful to see and hear within an audience. His Becaves show was the highlight of my Fringe. I love the fact some people won't allow themselves to get it - the dicks! A few walk outs to be expected, but then some very firm fans to be made.
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Rubberbandits, Helm, Gittins and Dr Brown
08/11/2012 Permanent link
Dr Brown And Duncan Bolt Are Almost Human: Free
Dr Brown And The Euro-Eccentrics
Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Dr Brown Behaves
Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Dr Brown Because
Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Doctor Brown Becaves
Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown....
Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Doctor Brown: Befrdfgth
Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Doctor Brown: Bexperiments
The Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown Show
Dr Brown: Befrdfgth