Doctor Brown: Because (4 stars)

This article is from 2013

Doctor Brown: Because

Show full of the unexpected is lapped up by the audience

It's not often that you get pelted with olives during a show. But then of course as we've come to realise over the last four years at the Fringe, Doctor Brown's shows are full of the unexpected.

Anyone who has seen or at least heard about him before is already jittery while we wait before the show. We're not even sure which way he's going to come in. Eventually the lights in the auditorium dim, nothing happens for a few minutes, then the lights go up again. Then down, then up, then down... you get the idea. By the time he finally pops his head through the blackout curtain the adrenaline’s coursing.

Brown's not presenting a new show this year, these six shows (not including his marathon eight shows back-to-back the other day) cover two showings each of his three adult shows Because, Becaves and the Foster's and Barry winning Befrdfgth. This was billed as Because.

Finally entering the room proper having disrupted the front two rows by wheeling his chair through them, he dispenses of his bright yellow crash helmet to a guy at the front and begins to fling his breakfast around like a chimp at a tea party - very much setting precedent of the chaos to come.

Brown's a intriguing blend of predator and innocent. He shamelessly attempts to kiss and touch (mostly male) audience members. But as well as many looks of disappointment and disgust he spends a lot of time looking at us coquettishly, his big eyes peeping beneath the fringe of his wig. Despite all his bad behaviour a strange transformation occurs while you watch him - from fear that he'll head your way to hoping that he will, that you'll have the opportunity to get involved.

Of course this is one of those shows that splits the crowd. In the main the audience lapped it up but even at this stage in his career there'll always be someone who didn't know what to expect and finds out too late that they don't like it. For me the atmosphere is added to by the woman sat directly behind muttering and moaning about wanting to go home to bed and cursing the friend who had recommended Brown to her. Though when Brown had stripped off to his swimming trunks revealing his well-toned, liberally hairy body she mysteriously had shut up.

Brown's final transformation here is from a swimmer to a lady of the night - as ridiculous as the sight of a big hairy man wearing very little, a blonde wig and kitten heels can be, it's a surprisingly beautiful ending to the show. We were even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him again on the way out.

When Brown leaves the auditorium for the final time we remain in our seats for a while, unsurprised that we have not been given a signal as to whether the show has finished or not. It seems we're all a bit scared to leave. Or maybe we just didn't want to go.

Doctor Brown: Because, Becaves and Befrdfgth

  • 4 stars

Soho Theatre & the Mason Sisters at PBJ. Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award, Melbourne International Comedy Festival Barry Award and Total Theatre Award winner Doctor Brown is back for one week with the Doctor Brown trilogy - 2010's Because, 2011's Becaves and 2012's Befrdfgth. 'The strangest, funniest, most exciting…