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Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Dr Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown, Brown

Curtis Brown

Genre: Comedy, Drama




Low Down

With two successful adult shows, the side splitting Dr Brown has moulded his unconventional performance methods into a fringe show for children. With next to no dialogue, he’s a master at using simple body language and signals to communicate. Dr Brown takes every day activities and turns them on their head. He manages to create a series of problems out of absolutely nothing and, with the help of the children and adults, tries to achieve his set tasks for the day.


There is a friendly tiger smiling and singing whilst playing a tune on the ukulele. His song mostly consists of the lyric “Dr Brown” but he also welcomes everyone in and his silly song is quite catchy. Dr Brown makes a spectacular entrance – the children are mesmerised, watching him as he wriggles out of a laundry bag. He crosses the stage, still in the bag, to eat a banana. Everyone, adults too, has started giggling. When he eventually appears he gives a little wave to everyone. The children like him, sighing likes he’s a pet. There is a large frieze hanging behind him. It has simple and random images on it: a house, a pram, the Swiss Alps. Without speaking he implies that these are the things he must achieve today, but we don’t know how he’s going to do it. He begins with breakfast. This triggers the most ludicrous behaviour that the audience watch like a car crash. He does everything the children know you’re not allowed to do and they are delighted. He can’t put his shoes on properly and they shriek at him with exasperation. He gives them all pleading looks because he is so harebrained. He asks a parent to help him, but proceeds to complicate the situation further and this evokes more laughter as Dr. Brown ends up being lifted up in the air by his pants. The mayhem continues, with a competition that has an element of cheating in it and a daredevil bike moment. He points out what he’s achieved on the frieze and the children nod and voice agreement about what’s occurred already and what’s still to happen.

Although this is a children’s show, Dr Brown’s unique selling point is his impressive demonstration of physical theatre.  There’s a scene when he is on skis where the contortion he manages to achieve looks so painful and the audience try desperately to stop him ending up in such a mess, but of course the outcome is inevitable. The slapstick is skilful and echoes the dexterity of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton.  His performance is impeccably timed, no area of focus is laboured and he shows a comprehension of mischief that the children adore. The audience today vary in age range from 3 upwards, and they’re all involved in his impractical approach to solving his self made problems. There are really lovely musical moments from the singing tiger, and kids are shouting out to each other explaining what’s happening.
He has a pathetic look on his face and, because he’s making so many pointless decisions, the children want to take control of him. He allows them to believe that they are. At the end of the shpw I realise that I have been laughing uncontrollably for the full duration and I’m not even there with a child. This is down to his timing, unwavering eye contact and simple guttural noises that say everything that you need to know. Tremendous physical comedy.


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