The Luck Child
David Collins @ Royalty Theatre
10:00am, Wed 12 Mar 2014
I was always a fan of the Umbilical Brothers back-in-the-day, but – having seen them perform live in 2006 – I’d given them a wide berth since. But eight years have passed since that incredibly uneven show, so I figured that I’d give them another shot… and when I realised that half the ‘Brothers were also presenting a kid-friendly show, in a kid-(and Freak-)friendly timeslot, I snaffled a ticket pretty smartly.
But it was only after I grabbed a flyer on the way in to the Royalty Theatre that I saw a few words that were obviously meant for parental reassurance, but resulted in my nervousness: “Ages 4-10”. Even from mental maturity perspective, that’s well below my age… and I started to wonder whether I’d just dragged myself out of bed early to see something that was going to offer nothing to me.
There wasn’t a massive audience for this performance – maybe thirty people all up, half of which were children in the target age range – and that certainly had me questioning the viability of using the Royalty. Regardless, there was joyous applause and yelling as David Collins took to the stage, introduced himself with a few vocal effects, and went straight into the story of The Luck Child – a seventh son of a seventh son, banished by a power-hungry Evil King. Collins plays all the characters in his twisting tale, rubbery features and nimble voice adapting with little apparent effort.
In the centre of the stage was the only prop of the show, a three-metre-tall cardboard tower seemingly built out of boxes, which Collins rotates throughout the show to provide different backdrops to the story. It’s a clever construction, and clearly captured the imagination of the youngsters present; far moreso than the slow start, with a wizard exploring his alchemy to great sound effects (but little audience response). Once Collins won the kids over, however (and it only took a few brain-freeze shenanigans), he was set; the rest of the show allowed him the freedom to tinker with the audience’s imagination in the most absurd ways possible. And the Q&A session that followed the performance was a hoot: there were a bunch of questions (mostly from kids) about the cardboard set (that Collins answered with constructive detail), a lot of “Where’s Shane?” queries (“Mantra, Room 111b,” Collins replied, quipping “all the Mums can write that one down”), and probing about specific episodes of their TV show (which I hadn’t even been aware of up until that point).
The Luck Child was pretty much exactly what you’d expect from an Umbilical Brothers show targeted at children: clever noises, bold (and clever) over-acting, and sheer absurdity. But it also proved to be pretty entertaining to the adults (or, more specifically, this adult) present too, and whilst it could hardly be deemed a must-see theatrical event, it was most certainly worth waking up for… if only to see David Collins’ ridiculously assured stage presence.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 12, 2014