The Umbilical Brothers: Speedmouse
The Australian duo returns with a delightful new show.
Tue Jul 7 2009
NOGGIN AT MY DOOR Dundas, right, gets ahead of Collins; Photographs: Cami
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
The Umbilical Brothers were surely born to do exactly what they are doing—hard as that may be to describe—in their latest show, the enigmatically titled Speedmouse. Although it is playing at the Joyce Theater, a venue generally devoted to terpsichorean pursuits, this is not a dance piece, strictly speaking. But there is a dancelike aspect, one could argue, to the duo’s masterfully precise combinations of slapstick movement and microphone-manipulated sound effects—an art that the team described at one recent performance as “a unique fusion of cutting-edge technology and highly developed bullshit.”
Shane Dundas works the mike, creating a varied soundscape to accompany the zanier physical antics of David Collins as they wend through a series of riffs—on Olympic decathlon sports, Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodily noises and alien dinosaurs, among many others—on a stage whose only decor consists of a single green panel. But the performers’ substantial imaginations, charm and pantomime skills do the work of a dozen set dressers. I regret to say that this is the first Umbilical Brothers show I have ever seen; I missed both 1999’s Thwak! and an earlier version of Speedmouse that played the New Victory in 2006. I assumed, frankly, that the Australian entertainers’ shtick would not be my cup of tea—but now I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t drink them up with pleasure.—Adam Feldman