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

Shane Dundas – Believe

By Elyce Phillip

You’ll know Shane Dundas from The Umbilical Brothers – those great stalwarts of the Aussie comedy scene. He’s the one that makes the noises. But he doesn’t do that anymore. He’s not in for that kind of thing. Definitely not. Well, maybe sometimes.

‘Believe’ is Dundas’ first foray into stand-up and his first time going solo. The show is part auto-biography, part discussion of bigger themes concerned with the concept of belief – religion, science, large congregations of chickens – and above all, it’s about believing in yourself. This is a big leap into the unknown for Dundas, something that he refers to throughout the show. It has got to be nerve-wracking making the shift from a successful duo to standing alone in a small room in front of a bunch of people, and it’s really admirable to see Dundas take the risk and try something new.

‘Believe’ is still a little shaky on its feet. Some gags didn’t hit the mark and ran overly long, and in those moments, you could feel the audience getting a little tense and restless. A chunk in the middle of the show involving some questionable accents was cringe-worthy and though it eventually paid-off, it wasn’t worth the extended discomfort. It feels like this is a show that sticks too rigidly to the script. Even if a joke doesn’t land, Dundas persists with it to the very end. There’s no flexibility, no room to adapt to the audience.

But there’s a lot that’s great about this show. Dundas’ strength is that he’s a really engaging performer. When the material is good, he’s absolutely delightful. His stories about growing up in Canberra are wonderfully silly and a little dark and the bizarre ending ensured the audience left giggling and confused.

Dundas certainly has a knack for stand-up and it’s a good effort for a first attempt at the form. With a few tweaks here and there, ‘Believe’ has the potential to be fantastic. It’s just not quite there yet.

Shane Dundas – Believe is on at The Gold Room at the Portland Hotel until April 21