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Dr Brown Because

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Rarely have I felt so much like I was at a club where I wasn’t a member. Everywhere around me rang our hearty guffaws, screeches of excitement and gasps of anticipation, while I sat vaguely bemused, vaguely bored by a man doing very little. Had I watched Dr Brown’s show on TV, I’d have been convinced it had been given an exaggerated canned laughter track, as surely no one could be more than vaguely amused by this childish drivel, let alone left gasping for breath.

However everyone else guffawed at literally nothing; as the stage lights came on and the music blasts out, but no comedian. Several times this happens. Eventually he wheels himself to the stage on an office swivel chair, wearing a crash helmet, carrying an oversized suitcase and chomping on a banana. This, apparently is hilarious, especially when he offers the fruit to those sitting on the aisle.

As the non-verbal Dadaist performance continued, he made himself breakfast, sloshing the ingredients around the stage and into the audience, in scenes that make the gunge tank look sophisticated.

But even though it might sometimes feel it, this is most definitely not a children’s show. There is an undercurrent of awkward, predatory, homoeroticsm, as he gropes, caresses and kisses his audience, which has a bullying undertone, despite the apparent compliance. Oh, and he also fingers a toy doll at one point, for extra hilarity.

Ofter there doesn’t seem to be much joy in the performance, either, it’s all about causing discomfort. Dr Brown is no childlike clown, but rather an arrogant, dysfunctional, intimidating figure who induces no sympathy.

That said, I did raise a smile a few times. His juvenile mocking of some of the audience response is nicely immature, as is his insistence on getting us to clap along arrhythmically to a song, rewinding it to the beginning each and every time we screwed it up. And the two scenes that most resemble traditional comedy sketches, albeit surreal ones are enjoyably bonkers, rather than sectionably so. The business with him receiving visitors including Jesus and Santa is reasonably witty, while the Guess Who? game is an enjoyable kind of strange – at least until he ruins it with another gratuitous sexual payoff

But for the rest of the gang the whole thing was a side-splittingly hilarious from start to finish, as they whooped and hollered like a hen party as he stripped to his Speedos, or spontaneously joined in with an enthusiastic rendition of Total Eclipse Of The Heart. Maybe you’ll be one of those people who are swept away with the madness – and by the constellation of stars that adorn his poster, there are plenty of critics who do – but I’m not one of them.

Review date: 17 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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