Edinburgh Fringe 2012
The madcap adventures of Dr. Brown and his Singing Tiger, children’s theatre at it’s best, physical comedic gold.
I must first admit that I am a bit of a neophyte when it comes to reviewing children’s theatre, and I can safely say that I completely lucked-out with my first assignment after seeing Dr. Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger at Assembly’s Bosco Theatre Tent.
I imagine the ultimate children’s show for my own kids to be smart, interactive, and never underselling how observant and smart children are; they don’t miss a trick. And Dr. Brown gives you everything – physical comedy, clever gags, interaction with the audience, music, and smart, joyful acting. Phil Burgers’ reputation, from what I gather, is built more on extreme physical theatre and evidently some 18+ only humour, but watching Dr. Brown and His Singing Tiger I would never have known. His skills transfer beautifully to a younger audience and his deadpan face and clarity of physical comedy never leaves you lost or confused as to what’s going on or where the show is going.
This duo work together as two halves of the perfect comedic team as we’re taken through Dr. Brown’s daily regime, from breakfast to bedtime, with some unexpected turns in between. Burgers is a master of the art of doing nothing, his facial expressions revealing very little but his eyes and body saying everything, the epitome of brilliant physical comedy. Dr. Brown utters not a word during the show (with the exception of a few nonsense words from the Dr. Brown/Singing Tiger lexicon) and Stuart Bowden as The Singing Tiger is delightful, deft, and light of touch as the humble narrator and human soundtrack for the action, ably accompanying himself on ukulele from start to finish. It’s a joy to see these two comedians take simple tasks, like putting on boots or riding a bicycle, and turning them into comic gold, using the children in the audience as helpers more often than not, much the audience’s delight and I’m sure to a few parents’ trepidation!
This show is an extravaganza of madcap, clever, chaotic clowning that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what they’ll possibly come up with next. Not only talented clowns, Burgers and Bowden keep the pace clipping along for the 50 minute show and never miss a beat, even when it’s improvising with the audience or deftly guiding a tent full of children from their vocally expressed preoccupation with the fact that Mr. Brown is wearing two hats, to moving onto the next gag.
The show is, of course, for children, and with the cacophony outside the tent before we were seated I, the children’s theatre novice, wondered what I had gotten myself into, but there was nary a peep after the show kicked off, with almost every child sitting in rapt attention and wonder, riveted to the antics onstage. I sat there with mu own big smile on my face and found myself craning my neck along with every child in the audience in order not to miss a beat of the action. There are even a few ‘He’s behind you!’ panto moments to revel in, much to the delight of the kiddies and adults alike.
I’m not entirely sure what children’s theatre is supposed to be, but if this show is any indication of what’s out there for families, make the journey early to catch this show before it’s completely sold out. Not only will your children love you for it but you’ll laugh, clap, and giggle nonstop, and, I would venture a guess, sport a great big grin on your face for hours afterwards.