About two years ago, I won tickets to see the self-professed Best-Band-in-the-World, Die Roten Punkte (The Red Dots), in the small Old Council Chambers at the Trades Hall. I was greeted with a unique fusion of the worst bands in the world, with one of the best comedy duos I have ever seen. Daniel Tobias and Clare Bartholomew as Otto and Astrid Rot, the German brother and sister duo, created a hilariously perceptive depiction of a Eurovision-esque rock-band in the vein of The White Stripes. The music, thumped out on miniature guitar and drums (and glockenspiel) was parody at its best, with the persistent technical glitches facilitating the sibling rivalry while revealing the strangely sexual relationship between the pair. The grungy rawness of the show heightened the comedy with the audience left in tears of laughter.
The return of the duo, however, for the Melbourne Fringe Festival, perhaps highlights the pitfalls of fame. Launching their new album, Super Musikant (Super Musician), in the larger New Ballroom at the Trades Hall, the popularity of the act seems to have affected Otto and Astrid (as well as Tobias and Bartholomew). The comedy has lost some of its bite, with the heavy focus on Astrid’s drinking problems and Otto’s life of tea-totalling veganism seeming a little flat and lacking the sharpness of the original concept.
The heavily character-focussed moments, developed in the original season, were the highlights of the show. The flashes of flirtatious bickering between the brother and sister pair, as each dedicated original compositions to embarrassed audience members, were hilarious, providing glimpses of Tobias and Bartholomew’s comedic characterisation skills. In particular, Tobias’ characterisation of Otto, as an over-protective emo rock-star glaring down the men in the audience, was funnily recognisable. His raw energy maintained audience attention even when some of the scripted rants lacked punch and wit. The dance break in ‘Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter (I Am A Lion)’ was the most wildly impressive display of enthusiasm I have seen in a long time – Tobias’ highly-choreographed routine, which included ‘The Robot’, break-dancing, all kinds of leaps and jumps, as well as lion-impersonations, was performed with fantastic flair and precision.
Despite my disappointment on revisiting Die Roten Punkte, when I found myself singing ‘Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter’ in the shower this morning I realised that Tobias and Bartholomew really are Super Musikant(s) (as well as Super Comedians!). Rock Bang!
Tobias & Bartholomew Presents
Die Roten Punkte
Venue: Trades Hall (New Ballroom)
Dates: 1 - 11 Oct 2008
Times: 8:15 pm (7:15 pm Sunday)
Tickets: Conc $17.00, Full $24.00, Group $19.00
Bookings: Festival Tix: 03 9660 9666 or www.melbournefringe.com.au