The Umbilical Brothers – The Rehearsal
The Umbilical Brothers @ Union Hall
9:30pm, Sat 11 Mar 2006
Having seen them on TV a few times, I’ve always been keen to see The Umbilical Brothers live… however, their seasons at previous Fringes have always been short and/or sold out. Finally, I managed to squeeze in their latest show, which encapsulates the idea that they’re rehearsing for a big performance at Football Park.
And, having just typed that sentence, I realise how utterly ludicrous and fragmented a show it really was.
The Football Park bits – a spotlight representing the park, the Umbies walking onto the ground as finger-avatars – were absolute shit. Echoey vocals ensured that any entertainment in these bits remained elusive. Other recurring bits throughout the evening – the monster at the front door, for one – died pretty quickly; the Audience Plant jokes were flat the first time, and recurrences of the Plant were diabolically bad, and had me trying to calculate their cost on the off-chance that a refund was in order.
In fact, the highlight of the show – made all the more spectacular by the dross that surrounded it – involved a video camera and some hand puppets, with seemingly nothing to do with the “rehearsal” premise. Using the depth-of-field of the camera to their advantage, the Umbies performed some brilliant perspective tricks to show them interacting with the puppets and each other… a bit of biffo, chase scenes, it was all fantastic.
But the fact that there were huge flat patches around this 10-minute patch of brilliance leads me to believe that that was the only “content” of the show. So could I have the other 50 minutes back, please? I don’t mind paying $3-per-minute for such great content – but don’t waste my time with shit.