REVIEW: The Umbilical Brothers – The Distraction
Image: ACON’s Aboriginal Project at Mardi Gras Fair Day 2020. Photo: Reg Domingo
REVIEWED BY JANE MAJOR
The Umbilical Brothers, a partnership between David Collins and Shane Dundas with collaborator Doug Bayne, are performing their latest work, The Distraction, at the Sydney Opera House Playhouse until Feb 27 2022. The duo have been working together since the late 80s and are widely acknowledged for their performances with shows and awards including Entertainment Weekly’s ‘100 Most Creative People in Entertainment’, appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, supporting Robin Williams, performing for the Queen of England, a Helpmann Award for Comedy Performance of the Year, the Edinburgh Fringe Critics’ Choice Award, two BAFTAs, The Upside Down Show won an Emmy and a Logie and most recently ‘Best Comedy’ in the weekly Fringe awards 2021 Adelaide Fringe for The Distraction.
Wednesday’s performance saw an almost full house with many families and children making up a devoted audience. Clearly The Umbilical Brothers’ fans relish the trademark high energy fast-paced blend of movement, vocal sound effects and verbal interaction. The show brings contemporary references to COVID and screen addiction to the fore.
Upon entering the theatre the audience is presented with a large screen positioned over the middle of the stage and green screens on both sides of the stage, cameras and props scattered on the stage. With Bayne providing technical support, Collins and Dundas weave on stage camera work against the green screen backgrounds with a variety of props and recorded material displayed compellingly on the large central screen. The audience is also drawn into the technical performance with digital ventriloquy audience heads asking ‘questions’ and some of the less fortunate having their heads blown off. The pace is unrelenting as they effortlessly transition from one segment to the other with masterful precision and playfulness, incorporating a lost spaceman, Steve Jobs and lightening strikes with a theme of babies including ‘Baby Sports’ and giant babies from outer space. Doug would have to take out the award for best dad dance.
Unique can be an overused term, but this performance is truly unique.
Until Feb 27. Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point. $64.90+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com