The Umbilical Brothers: The Rehearsal

SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

06/05/2008 - 10/05/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

After a third season in New York, and fresh from a tour of Holland, "Australia’s hottest export since Vegemite" (Time Out NY) return to the NZ Comedy Festival with their newest show.  So new, that it’s a rehearsal.  Or is it? 

"…two blokes acting the maggot and having a lot of fun in the process…wildly imaginative in conception and suitably breathless in execution…comedy gold" – Irish Independent 

Every Umbilical experience is like nothing you’ve seen before, and this acclaimed show is no exception. Visit Velcro World, see wind-tossing monkeys, relax with Shane, meet Dave’s alter ego, and enjoy a finale that Chortle UK described as "one of the funniest things I have ever seen on a comedy stage".  You’ll even get to see what the Queen cacked herself over at the Royal Variety Performance.

"Some of the most cleverly articulated comic theatre you’ll ever see…" – Sun Herald 

Creatively misused multi-media, audience participation, suspicious furry glove puppets, tangents that shouldn’t be taken… In this, a very different Umbilical experience, they take you inside their Creative Process, and don’t let you out until your brain explodes.

Come and join in on the process.  After all, every Rehearsal gets you one step closer to perfection, regardless of what Chortle UK said ("There is no obvious way to improve on this truly, truly extraordinary show").

Dates: Tues 6 – Sat 10 May, 8.45pm
Venue: SKYCITY Theatre, Cnr Wellesley & Hobson Streets, City
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Tickets: Adult $34.90 / Conc. $29.90 / Groups 10+ $29.90 (service fees may apply)
Show Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes 

1 hr 15 mins, no interval

Contagious good time

Review by Hap Richardson 07th May 2008

In the centre of an empty stage is a screen, bathed in orange light. The soundtrack suggests a wild jungle in the middle of a wind storm. Shadows are cast across the stage of two animals hard to make out at first. The noises are excited, high pitched … Monkeys! Wild monkeys! Is this a piece on evolution? The stage is set for an exciting night.

The stage lights come up … the music stops … the monkeys stand upright, introduce themselves as The Umbilical Brothers and welcome us to this, their Rehearsal.

The Brothers (David Collins and Shane Dundas) are putting together a show for mysterious sponsors. They have a loose series of sketches currently at the first level. In their dreams the show will be so big that it’ll pack the Vector Arena, perhaps even Madison Square Gardens. The size of the venue is shown by fingers in a spotlight against the aforementioned screen, and some skilfull voice work creating an echo in the cavernous space.

The screen later becomes a well used tool once a video camera is brought into play, making use of its size to create at times hilarious visual gags, the first that comes to mind being man walking on the moon. The renowned physical comedic prowess of the Bros is well displayed in ‘Velcro World’: how does one breakdance when the whole world is sticky?

The stand up comedy elements of the show were ably executed with the expected audience participation coming once a woman in the audience was found to have uncanny resemblance to Morgan Freeman. The was no question that this participation is genuine as the third brother Jeff Shatwell exhibits perfect comedy timing in his role as the Interrupting Plant, so good in fact that when he is called to accept his award he is too busy playing the same role in another bigger production.

Lighting and sound are used to great effect as the punchline of a few of the jokes. Michael the technician gives voice to this normally hidden element in any theatre production, by way of a loudspeaker as the cue system ‘goes wrong’. We are reminded at one point that the sound will be different when this is the full production.

Given that this is a rehearsal perhaps we are also being asked to forgive that the show at times seemed to drag, but never to the point of losing the audience’s interest. The good time these two seem to having up there is in itself contagious.

The laughs when they come are genuine, deep. I most certainly enjoyed "every second minute of it".


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