The Umbilical Brothers: ‘Speedmouse: The director’s cut.’

It’s really nice to see the Umbies making space in their international touring schedule to fit in some Sydney gigs. But the boys aren’t here for long before they open Speedmouse in New York, so don’t miss the chance to see them.

For the uninitiated, the Umbies are a home grown mime and sound effects duo. In print, that description doesn’t have a lot of sizzle to it but this is mime with an Aussie slant. An evening spent with the Umbilical Bothers is a non stop array of wildly physical gags, performed brilliantly by two guys who are having just as much fun as the audience.

An Umbies performance doesn’t usually involve a storyline but their latest offering, Speedmouse, the director’s cut there is a hint of one. To wit: A remote control, which has power over all of Dave and Shane’s actions, has gone missing.

It’s a good excuse to explore what life would be like if it came with DVD options. The boys have also expanded their cast for this show to include a roadie (an inspired touch, considering there’s only one prop) and Tina, the lighting and sound operator. This gives an added dimension of interaction and allows for alliances to be formed and betrayed.

But in the final wash, it comes down to the routines. And in their years performing, the Umbies have completely retooled physical comedy and taken it in weird and bloody funny directions. The Umbies are a Looney Tunes cartoon come to life.

For Speedmouse, they have a selection of their classic sketches teamed with brand new ones, and each has been honed to perfection. The one that seems to have become a constant in their act is the puppets sketch, which the Umbies now save for their encore.

And when it’s these two guys on stage, there should always be an encore.

This piece first appeared in Drum Media in 2003.

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