Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger: The Kids' Show almost epitomises what theatre for kids (of all ages) should be like. The show Phil Burgers and Stuart Bowden perform is relatable to adults as well, and the kids and I imagine much of the comedy they presented onthe Brisbane Festival Spiegeltent stage today was just the PG version of their adult comedy.
Serenaded by the ukulele playing singing tiger, Stuart Bowden, as we enter the Spiegletent, we listen to an absurd yet logical song about the kinds of animals that would never sing, such as a dog or a cow. Formal theatre etiquette is abandoned, purely more for the fact that from the get go Dr Brown and his singing tiger pull the audience in and engage them fully. Dr Brown, Phil Burgers, emerges from a large canvas bag sporting tight 70s style tennis shorts, a beanie, jacket and tie and it's the adults who laugh the most when they see him. When the tiger asks the children if Dr Brown looks like a doctor, it's a definite no from all and from here we are taken on a journey through song and physical comedy about the daily routine of Dr Brown.
For just over 50mins there is never a lull in the action and the children in the audience are treated as equals, and given authority to behave 100% as children, to laugh and interact with Dr Brown and his singing tiger. When Dr Brown needs help putting on his boots and the little girl who has volunteered has seemingly pushed Dr Brown all around the stage on his chair with each boot shove attempt, the tiger calls for more help, and a little more help, until all the children are up on the stage. There is no barrier between the performers and their audience; there is no playing down to them, just good clean (and no so clean) physical joke after joke to be enjoyed. The parents and adults in the crowd are invited to be as silly and childish as the antics on stage, and they are often called upon as volunteers. Any cringe factor that applies to the onstage action definitely comes from the adult presence in the room, even if we are laughing uncontrollably while a mum is being aeroplane spoon fed fake baby poo.
If this is the kind of show the duo of Bowden and Burgers dream up for children, then I can't wait to see their comedy for adults. With the performance building to a climax, as the much anticipated bike riding part of Dr Brown's day arrived, it was hard to imagine what else we'd experience to top what had preceded. However, no one was disappointed, even if, as one on-the-ball child pointed out after Dr Brown's bike stunt, (a world record breaking attempt to jump over a line up of kids lying on the stage floor and one hefty bloke from the audience) ‘You cheated.' To which the tiger defended by asking, ‘Did you have your eyes closed?' The honest child replied with a no and the tiger retorted, ‘You cheated too.'
The audience paraded out of the Spiegeltent interacting with Dr Brown and the singing tiger and it was almost a shame that we were leaving this wonderfully zany world. A world where regardless of age, silliness, frivolity and nonsense were the order of the day and each of us was equal to participate and laugh, drink tea out of a giant spoon, use our mouths as the target for Dr Brown's golf swing practise and to just let out kids be... well, kids.
Brisbane Festival Presents
Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger: The Kids' Show
By Phil Burgers and Stuart Bowden
Venue: The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent, Cultural Forecourt, South Bank
Dates: 27-28 September, 2012
More Info: www.brisbanefestival.com.au