Review of The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Vaudeville Theatre
Yeah, yeah, we get it: you’re not brothers, you don’t fly and no-one’s from Russia. And you juggle, how hilarious is that?
The ‘FKB’ are a four-man troupe led - since 1975 - by ponytailed Paul Magid who has possibly the second least attractive London stage persona after ‘Sir’ Bruce Forsyth. Certainly he found it hard to lash the sparse Thursday night audience into anything approaching enthusiasm.
He’s also the one who seemed to drop most of the balls and clubs, and we’re not counting those ho-ho-ho ‘accidentally on purpose’ moments which were too numerous to be convincing: when you drop illuminated balls on a darkened stage and they roll into the wings, no-one thinks that’s a joke.
No one thought much else in the act was a joke either – there’s a running (make that limping) gag about gathering nine ‘objects of terror’ like a hatchet, an egg and a shaken bottle of champagne which will be juggled in the finale, but by the time we got to seven someone near us suggested the eighth object of terror should be the script.
Those sight gags about blindness, the casual racism about dog-eating Koreans, the unfunny puns and the whole lame-ass pretence of being corn-pone Americans failing to understand the Brits just don’t work. And nobody finds anything about the House of Lords amusing, certainly not just mentioning it and hoping for a laugh.
There’s music, but it’s random and often poor – Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance doesn’t by itself make plastic Indian Clubs exciting, and the ‘jazz juggling’ required such long and tedious explanation of how twirling objects is like the rhythm of a jazz quartet that most of the audience lost the will to riff.
The actual juggling routines are well-choreographed and among the younger performers, Stephen Bent is very competent and has nice hair, but it’s too like an audition for Britain’s Got Talent and you long for someone to buzzer them off and make way for a dog act.
This review written for Londonist.
Thanks to everyone who joined Erin Kelly, Melanie McGrath and me at Mansfield Central Library on Saturday 25 February. We had a panel discussion and Q&A, ...