As Doctor Brown's show Becaves finished, three word reviews bounced around the departing crowd. 'That was shit', 'That was weird', 'That was superb'. Although not being overly detailed, these reflex critiques neatly express the awkwardness, bewilderment and joy that Doctor Brown manages to create in his hour long show.
Beginning by thrashing around behind a curtain to Carmina Burana, Doctor Brown makes a blustering entrance to the stage. Half the crowd are already crying with laughter, a quarter are tittering and the rest are thoroughly perplexed. The first half of the show continues in virtual silence, at least from the stage, as the stream of laughter steadily ebbs and flows, meandering through the crowd.
He continues, using props as seemingly improvised inspiration, before coming to his main set piece, if it can be called that - an interpretation of traditional Peking opera, playing both parts in a romantic, and ultimately bizarrely sexual, encounter. Doctor Brown manages to bring a confident crudeness to his inspired sketch, which has the audience in tears the first time he performs it, an even more so during the re-enactment with an audience member.
Doctor Brown certainly has balls, as you will no doubt see, and his interaction with the audience is very bold. Crowd members are slapped, hushed, pushed around, embarrassed, wrestled to the ground and, at more than one point, virtually sexually assaulted. This is where the caveat for this show comes. If the idea of any of this happening to you makes you feel uneasy, then, for your own enjoyment and that of the rest of the audience, I advise you to give it a miss. However, if you are intrigued at the prospect of some truly unique physical comedy and excited by the potential of becoming part of this odd circus act then it is more than worth checking out.
The problem with trying to review this show is that just by describing it you essentially give away Doctor Brown's equivalent of punchlines. Even ascribing adjectives to his performance seems like I am giving away too much, as so much of the performance is in the small physical details: the odd glance, frown or gesture. Describing the intricacies of his performance in minute detail would be unhelpful as so much of the joy of this show is being in a room with a bunch of other people who don't quite know why they are laughing.
Analysing Becaves could easily turn into hipster chin stroking (a bearded chin of course) with pretentious claims that this show is 'almost art'. In reality, it is just a man on stage being silly and allowing the audience to revel in this supreme silliness.