BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Entertainment: Reviews
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Showbiz 
Music 
Film 
Arts 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Reviews 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Monday, 13 August, 2001, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Cord in the act
The Umbilical Brothers hail from Australia
The Umbilical Brothers had the sell-out crowd in knots
By BBC News Online's Olive Clancy in Edinburgh

Does your heart sink when you hear the word clown?

Add "physical" and "slapstick" and I get visions of my father watching Laurel and Hardy, tears of mirth rolling down his cheeks while I, his incredulous and deeply untickled offspring looked on with a teenage sneer of superiority.

No, clowns do not usually do it for me, but clowns are a large part of what the Edinburgh Festival is all about, so along I went to see the Umbilical Brothers.

Happily, the Australian duo manage to be slapstick, physical clowns without remotely resembling anything my father would recognise.

The pair bound about with immaculate timing, one providing a soundtrack to the others' antics.

They are indeed funny - the sell-out crowd at this performance were in knots. And they certainly can perform - they synchronise their movements perfectly.

The Umbilical Brothers
The Umbilical Brothers are not for those with cynical humour
But I ended up feeling like that grumpy teenager watching Laurel and Hardy. Have we not seen all this before?

Those clever mouth-to-mic soundtracks - that used to be a regular feature of Whose Line Is It Anyway?

What about the buzzing mimed fly that won't die despite repeated slapstick thumping and pesticide spraying?

I distinctly remember Bobo the clown at Fawcett's circus doing something suspiciously similar sometime in the late 70s (for the record my Da was a big fan of both Fawcett's and Bobo).

The Umbilical Brothers are incredibly successful. They have appeared on David Letterman and Jay Leno shows and left Time Out New York and the New York Times spluttering adulations.

Maybe I have been over-exposed to the cynical humour of the 90s. The part of the show that I liked best was the dour and uncooperative roadie who came on in a decidedly sinister-looking traditional clown's costume.

I do appreciate great movements and obvious visual gags, but clowning still does not do it for me. My father, on the other hand, would have loved it.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Reviews stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Reviews stories