Comedy: The Umbilical Brothers Arts Theatre, London
'Imagine Robert De Niro animated by Hanna Barbera, and you get some idea of the cartoon mania'
Tuesday 20 February 1996
For a start, they make all manner of noise. As they try to take "Heaven by Storm" - Shane is pursuing Dave across the universe for 20 cents towards the costs of his pet cricket's funeral - they conjure up the sounds of everything from Alka Seltzer in a glass of water to those machines that go beep in a space-rocket merely by using a microphone and an over-active larynx.
In one sweat-inducing routine, Collins, in a red vest and braces, mimes an increasingly frenzied, gun-toting Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver while Dundas, in, er, a red vest and braces, stands at the back providing the sound effects - including a super-charged "You talkin' to me?" Imagine Robert De Niro animated by Hanna Barbera, and you get some idea of the cartoon mania of the scene.
But it's as much about exercising the body as the voicebox. They are not averse to running up the wall if they think there might be a laugh in it (which there is). An eye-watering skit in a multi-gym - set, inevitably, to "Eye of the Tiger" - culminates in them frantically trying to outsprint each other on a running-machine. They must be as fit as several fiddles.
They can also flex bon mots, artfully de-constructing the action as they go along. To end one scene, Dundas says he has to go to a meeting with Andrew. "Who's Andrew?" asks Collins. "He's just a sub-plot I've been working on," comes back the reply.
There is a certain breathlessness to the whole affair - like a child trying to impress his parents by running round in a circle till he feels sick. And the plot - throwing in pastiches of Terminator, Star Wars, and that mimed Guinness ad apparently at random - is about as comprehensible as an episode of The Prisoner. And they might want to consider seeing someone about their gun fetish.
But the Umbilical Brothers offer an appealing mixture of deftness and daftness, and a verbal and physical dexterity you wouldn't usually associate with the country that gave the world Sir Les Patterson.
n To 16 March. Booking: 0171-836 2132
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Poldark episode 8, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
Peter Kay’s Car Share, TV review: The perfect vehicle for Kay’s comic talents
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove