With lots of humor, dancing, music and—of course—juggling, the comedy and juggling troupe the Flying Karamazov Brothers dazzled the audience of the Ferst Center for the Arts on Saturday, Jan. 19 with a performance of their newest show, entitled “4PLAY.”
The Brothers, Mark Ettinger (“Alexei”), Nick Flint (“Maximov”), Roderick Kimball (“Pavel”) and Paul Magid (“Dmitri”), are most well known for their impressive juggling skills and expertise.
The troupe has been performing around the world for over thirty years, though Magid is the sole founding member still performing.
The name of the troupe and their stage names are homage to the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel, The Brothers Karamazov.
The Karamazovs (pronounced “KARE-a-mat-zov”) began the performance with a series of humorous non sequitur bits, including the Brothers running on and off stage in succession as they carried progressively taller stacks of cardboard boxes into view.
They also combined blatant visual gags like cross-dressing with short comedy sketches, strongly in the tradition of Shakespeare.
The show also incorporated many jokes about contemporary American culture.
One popular bit the troupe performed, called “The Gamble,” involved one member of the group having to juggle three objects chosen by the audience as long as they were heavier than an ounce, lighter than ten pounds and smaller than a bread box.
Depending on his performance, “the Champ” would be awarded either a standing ovation or a pie to the face.
The audience participation angle seemed to be known to several members of the crowd, who brought up specially crafted objects that were very tricky to juggle. “The Champ,” unable to juggle all three objects at once for ten seconds, received a pie to the face but was nonetheless applauded.
Soon after the show’s beginning, the troupe introduced a recurrent theme, their “Terror” trick. The trick involved the slow introduction throughout the show of nine objects of various size and shape, including dry ice, a meat cleaver, a skillet and a bottle of champagne.
The four then juggled all nine of the objects between each other, resulting in a stunning end to the show for all spectators.
The show also included several juggling musical performances that involved special juggling clubs designed for percussion.
There were also several sketches that involved the Brothers helping each other play two different musical instruments with each hand, the two on the end juggling to one another.
Though perhaps not as visually impressive as “Terror,” the bits definitely won points for creativity.
Overall, the Karamazovs astounded the audience with their showmanship and skill, but not merely for their juggling talent.
Not quite a variety show but certainly more than a mere juggling act, their penchant for live performance, combining humor and wit with elements of music and theater, made the show an absolute pleasure to attend.