Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

01/05/2013 - 04/05/2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

He’s won loads of awards – what more is there to say. 

Dr Brown is described as anti-comedy, surreal and absurd. But I prefer to use the word “genius”.’ – Herald Sun, Melbourne

About as bonkers an hour of comedy as ever you would find – part Mr Bean, part Buster Keaton, all odd.’ – Sunday Times

The strangest, funniest, most exciting hour I’ve spent at the Fringe so far… A stunning mix of anarchy and symmetry.’ – Times

Terrifying and titillating… alarming and alluring… fantastic.’ – Guardian

Thrillingly unpredictable and gloriously funny.’ – Time Out

The most fearless, full-impact festival appearance I have seen in recent years.’ – Evening Standard

After a spectacular run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012 and numerous international festivals, Dr Brown brings his BARRY Award and Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award 2012 winning solo show Befrdfgth to New Zealand.

With a cult following that spreads from Prague to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Toronto, Dubai, Hong Kong and London – to name a few; Dr Brown is fast becoming one of the most talked about alternative comedians on the international circuit.

Befrdfgth is for anyone tired of winsome witticisms and predictable punch-lines. A wordless act of absurdist mime he leaves delightfully bewildered audiences in his wake. Dr Brown goes to strange places, turns left and then goes even stranger.

Dr Brown is the stage persona of Philip Burgers, a London-based performer who has toured three solo clown shows across four continents in the past 4 years: ‘Behaves’, ‘Because’, and ‘Becaves’. He was named 2010 Best Newcomer by the Sunday Times; Time Out Critic’s Choice in 2010 and was one of The Sun’s Top Ten performers of 2011. He was nominated for a Malcolm Hardee Award for Original Comedy in 2010 and 2011 and ‘Becaves’ was nominated at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe for a Total Theatre Award. He has followed this success with an equally acclaimed combo of shows, Befrdrfgth and Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger both in New Zealand as part of the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival.

For something completely different, pretty odd but a lot funny get down to Dr Brown. He’s won loads of awards and has two shows in the NZ International Comedy Festival 2013. One with a name you can’t pronounce and one for kids – don’t get them confused.

Awards for Doctor Brown in Befrdfgth:
Malcolm Hardee Award nominee for Original Comedy in 2010 and 2011
Total Theatre Award nominee 2011
Total Theatre Award winner 2012
BARRY Award for Best Show, Melbourne Comedy Festival 2012
Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show 2012

Doctor Brown in Befrdfgth
Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 May,
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre
Suitable for ages 16+.
Tickets are available from 800buytickets or
or the Aotea Centre Box Office.
Tickets are $29.50 or $26.50 Concession (Student, Senior Citizen 60+, and Beneficiary Card Holders). Duration: 60mins 

Bizarre and Expected

Review by Sharu Delilkan 03rd May 2013

To be honest I had no idea what to expect when I turned up to watch Doctor Brown in Befrdfgth. I chose to review this one merely because the limited write-up, that gave nothing away, insinuated that it would be a show like no other.

And that it definitely was. The slick act, that proves that a picture or a visual show paints a thousand words, starts off very modestly and quickly lulls the audience into a false sense of security. But don’t be fooled. Doctor Brown (American writer and comedy performer Philip Burgers) is insane at best, an absolute lunatic at worst – who holds nothing back. [More]


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The wildest, most ridiculously surreal show you will see anywhere

Review by Stephen Austin 02nd May 2013

In this cynical world, it’s a pretty rare occasion to be amongst an audience still willing to entertain their sense of play as they leave the theatre.  Doctor Brown (Phillip Burgers) has us all roaring, cackling and honking out into the street, with broad grins across our faces and a more engaged sense of even the smallest gesture of those around us.

Such an unpronounceable title as “befrdfgth” (I had to consult my notes several times on that spelling) is always going to lead to something truly absurdist, but the levels the comedy is played at are something the publicity material can barely hint at.

It all starts simply enough.  A black robed ukelele player sits, quietly watching us come in and seat ourselves, and we puzzle over what the black space might have in store for us.  Soon, odd movements begin to stir behind the curtains and we’re feeling a little uncomfortable that something may have gone wrong.  

However, it becomes clear pretty quickly that what we are in fact witnessing is some insanely genius mime where we never actually see the performer as a character begins to form itself from the stygian gloom, snatching bags and creating ring-wraith shapes, searching for our pity and laughter.  Mumenshantz* would have been proud of much of the object manipulation here!

When the performer does show his face, he is at first shy but has an oddly glib physical presence that is at once charmingly naughty and devilishly playful.  He is willing at the drop of a hat to flip characters, clamber through the audience, create broad physical moments and bring us right down into the intimacies of a singular idea.  

Instead of the usual un-interrupted process of flitting between each character that is so common (and almost passe these days) in most solo work, Brown uses the seconds in between to animate the thoughts going through his own mind, throwing half annoyed looks at hecklers and genuinely enjoying his own energy within the work, to the glee of all watching.  

Not a single word is uttered in the entire hour, nor does it need to be.  Every single moment, movement, idea and nuance is absolutely 100% clear.

The themes of the piece aren’t apparent at first, but there is a cyclic nature to it all.  It’s clear there’s a strong non-conformist, nonsensical air to proceedings, but there are also ideas explored of paternity, honour, guilt, suspicion and pride.  There is doubt thrown the way of organised religion and a highly anti-authoritarian bent thrown in the mix as well.  

It all really starts to come together when audience members are directly involved (indeed, we’re all implicated at times) and it becomes apparent that there is slightly more at stake here than just a crazy performer trying to make us laugh, although if you anyone wants to watch this at face value I’m sure they will still be swept up in its infectious silliness.

It is easy to see that Brown’s work/play style would translate well to a children’s audience for his daytime show Dr Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown And His Singing Tiger (just with less sexual overtones).

So hard to explain in one easy byte what it is that makes this show tick, you really just need to see it and get immersed in the bizarre anarchy of it all.

However, without a doubt in my mind, I declare “befrdfgth” (yep, I still have to consult the festival notes on my spelling!) the funniest, most brilliant show in this year’s New Zealand International Comedy Festival.  Possibly ANY New Zealand International Comedy Festival.  Hell, I’d go so far as to say this is the wildest, most ridiculously surreal show you will see anywhere.  Do not miss.
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*From Wikipedia: Mummenschanz is a Swiss mask theater troupe who perform in a surreal mask- and prop-oriented style. Founded in 1972 by Bernie Schürch, Andres Bossard and the Italian-American Floriana Frassetto, the group became popular for its play with bizarre masks and forms, light and shadow, and their subtle choreography.


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