Review by Ellis Koch
I was meant to take my great niece to see Dr. Brown on Easter Sunday . . . but she stood me up for an Easter egg hunt – a transgression I forgive her for even if it meant that a middle aged man had to attend a children’s show alone. Something, as you can imagine, is fraught with all kinds of anxiety. To alleviate this anxiety I did the only thing I could do on short notice and roped in another middle aged man to come and see it with me . . . and boy oh boy did we have a blast! Dr. Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger is, in billing, a children’s show but in reality it is a wholesome and hilarious fifty minute family show that utilizes clowning and song to immediately engage with its audience of all ages and take them on a whimsical journey into a typical day of the titular Dr. Brown. The two creators, Stuart Bowden and Phil Burgers (two middle aged men themselves), really know how to tap into their inner child and present a show full of belly laughs and a fresh, sparkling sense of imagination that appeals to adults and children of all ages.
Bowden’s singing tiger ties the show together with charisma and song, a simple refrain played out on a ukulele throughout the entirety creates a running thread of narration and storytelling that sets the framework for Burgers’ Dr. Brown, who uses clowning and mime to great effect to generate comedy gold. The duo’s ability to elicit eager participation in their audience interaction segments, not just from children but adults also, is a testament to how engaging their material and performance is. Watching an adult member of the audience get up on stage and engage in a gibberish conversation with Dr. Brown with nothing but eagerness and earnestness is incredible and it’s made possible because the duo of Bowden and Burgers aim all of their material at everybody – they engage their diverse audience with classic clowning repetition, familiar comedy techniques (There is a classic “slamming-doors” sketch often seen in bedroom farces), gross-out humour and absurd yet imaginative prop play – things that are timeless when it comes to tickling the funny bones of humans young and old. The masterful way the two pull off this material, though, is what really matters here: They don’t show condescension towards their younger audience members, they don’t alienate their adult audience members and they make the silliness and goofiness seem effortless and this translates to a warm acceptance from all that it is ok to enjoy being a bit silly every now and then.
Both Bowden and Burgers are accomplished writers and performers of material aimed at adult audiences and it’s wonderful to see them both ply their skills to making children laugh, too. Bowden is a storyteller and has created riveting one-man shows with great depth and poignancy that is littered with good humour and Burgers is a highly-trained clown and skilled comedy writer who has his own Netflix sketch show – so believe me when I say that Dr. Brown and Singing Tiger is not your average children’s show, it is a well-crafted piece of comedy designed to reach out to everybody. There is delight to be beheld here and if the sound of your children giggling uncontrollably, or the feeling of your own belly tingling with genuine laughter, is something that appeals to you then Dr. Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger is something you truly must see.