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Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
|A CurtainUp Review
By Barbara K. Mehlman
When David Collins and Shane Dundas were naughty little boys in Australia, they must have had vivid dreams of Sid Caesar, John Cleese, Bill Irwin, Victor Borge and Punch and Judy. And fortunately for us, they remembered their wild dreams and created for the stage, a wild and th-whacky performance piece that will have you laughing out loud as you watch their craziness take off.
And take off it does. Using mime, precision lip-synching, self-created sound effects, pratfalls, high speed foot chases, and hand puppets, this duo with the apt name of the Umbilical Brothers, soar through a raucous hour and fifteen minutes of comic mayhem that moves swiftly from the sophisticated to the silly, sublime to the slapstick. Conjure up images of hand grenades coming back at you, exploding dogs caroming off the walls, tap-dancing cowboys and galloping horses, all accompanied by tightly scripted acrobatic sound effects and eloquent mime, all at break-neck speed, and you'll begin to get a sense of how nutty this show is. Should it go by too fast, not to worry. These thinking-men's clowns provide you instant replays in both slo-mo and frame-by-frame versions to ensure you miss nothing. But Collins' and Dundas' enormous talents don't end there. From behind a low wall, they continue their antics with hand puppets and hand-play that segue into stage chases that have the agility of Bruce Lee and the Roadrunner, and then segue again into a screwball competition for control of the mike and the audience's attention.
While Thwak is actually written with great care, directed with exquisite attention to detail, and then rehearsed to perfection, the manic movements of the actors, and illogical transitions of the dialogue (such as it is) make the performances seem more like improv than the tightly-scripted, carefully timed show that it is. Most directors would be wary of attempting such a difficult show, but considering that director Philip Wm. McKinley also conceived, directed and choreographed the last three editions of Ringling Brothers' Barnum & Bailey Circus, Thwak is probably more like a school play to him
This hoot of a show comes to America after sold-out engagements across Australia and the U.K. It's selling out in New York as well. If roller coaster comedy tickles your funny bone, join the crowd.