The Umbilical Brothers – KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children

By James Shackell

The night ends with our two stars dead on stage and a small sheep puppet hypnotising the audience and saying ‘You will leave here tonight with nothing but the memory of your own sexual pleasure.’ It says a lot about KiDSHoW that this was probably the most normal thing that happened in it.

One of Australia’s enduring comedy troupes, The Umbilical Brothers are back with their latest paradoxical production, KiDSHoW – Not Suitable for Children. Just to be clear, this is a kid’s show (literally – the Brothers play two performers on a make-believe children’s’ television program) but it is definitely not a show for kids; unless of course your kids are really precocious and would appreciate watching the Brady Bunch getting mass mime-murdered, Mickey Mouse getting mime-bashed, and a questionable dealer selling street-mime to innocent passers-by.

I knew going in that Shane Dundas and David Collins were the masters of physical comedy, what I didn’t appreciate were their voices. A mime is a terrible thing to waste, and we’re very lucky that two of the most imaginative people our country has ever produced were also gifted the remarkable vocal range necessary to make their twisted dreams a reality. And it’s not just sound effects. Sure they can mimic everything from footsteps to submersion in water to a baby being born (it’s pretty gross), but did you know they can also sing? Not just carry a tune, I’m talking really sing. David Collins has one of the purest voices I’ve ever heard, never mind that it’s backed up by Shane’s hilarious mime antics. It’s as if their vocal chords operate like radio antennas tuned to any frequency you can imagine. Nothing is off limits.

If you’ve been an Umbilical Brothers fence sitter for a while, get off and see this show. If you’re already a fan, you don’t need this review. If you loathe them with a passion, go anyway: it was some of the best sexual pleasure I’ve ever had.

KiDSHoW is on at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse until April 13