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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
Minetta Lane Theatre
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New York City
New York
New York, NY
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The Flying Karamazov Brothers

by Robert Abrams
September 2, 2010
Minetta Lane Theatre
18 Minetta Lane
New York, NY 10014
800-982-2787
I saw the Flying Karamazov Brothers perform years ago in what might have been their original show, more or less. I recalled being amused by that show, so when I was asked to review their newest show, I said Yes.

In this show, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, the four brothers juggle and crack jokes on a small stage filled with cardboard boxes. Some might think a set made out of cardboard boxes looks cheap. Not I. I found the set endearing and creative. (I have a friend who sells cardboard boxes for a living. I have found enough uses for cardboard boxes over the years that I am convinced civilization would grind to a halt without them, so it is only fitting that the Karamazov Brothers have turned them into art.)

"Yes, yes," I can hear you saying, "cardboard boxes are very important for Mambo, but what does juggling have to do with dance?"

More than you might think. I noticed that in more than one number, the jugglers were passing pins to each other in time to the music. Sometimes they were walking in patterns around each other while passing the pins, in time to the music. Yes, this pushes the boundaries of what is normally thought of as dance, but there is plenty of precedent for challenging conventional boundaries, wheelchair dance being just one established example. Of course, I am not certain how "much" dance one could incorporate into juggling, but just to prove the idea isn't/is that crazy, here is a suggestion: set up a rueda (a group partner dance where partners are passed smoothly around the group) in any dance style you want, but add in a few people who do not have partners - people who don't have partners would juggle, and since partners are exchanged, everyone would eventually dance some of the time and everyone would juggle some of the time.

The Flying Karamazov Brothers had actual dance numbers too.

There was a send-up of ballet where the four men dressed in tutus and ballet slippers (no pointe shoes though). The Karamazov Brothers are not Les Ballets Grandiva (who dance en pointe fairly well), but the brothers are just as serious about not taking themselves too seriously. I enjoyed it.

There was a West Virginian Polish Clog Dance. Needless to say, they weren't actually wearing clogs.

Whether the brothers were dancing or not, they were constantly making jokes, often while simultaneously juggling. They were consistently funny, often deploying a dry wit, for the whole two act show. Some of the show was improvised. They were just as witty when improvising as when delivering scripted jokes.

I found the juggling to be excellent. They often produced complex rhythms. Sometimes the patterns created in the air were nothing short of hypnotic. No two numbers were the same. I especially liked the opening number of Act II, where they started by drowsily rolling balls across a table. The rolling grew into bouncing, below as well as above the table, and before you know it, you are wide awake.

While I did teach myself how to juggle three balls at once and can keep them going for a little while, I don't claim to be an expert on juggling. Hence, I can't say with certainty how many balls, or pins, an expert juggler, or a group of expert jugglers, should be able to keep in the air. I am not even sure if such a number is a proper measurement in this kind of show, where everyone on stage is both juggling and acting simultaneously. Still, sometimes I had this nagging feeling that something was missing. I think that in this age of Avatar (IN 3D!!!!!), we start to expect the impossible because so much of entertainment isn't real. There is a part of me that wants four jugglers to light 96 sparklers, insert the sparklers into 48 bananas, and then keep all 48 sparkling bananas in the air for at least 12 minutes.

While the show has no sparkling bananas, it does have nine terror objects, which, in the grand finale, all get juggled simultaneously for an extended period of time. Since they always use the same terror objects, I am not going to spoil things by telling you what they are, but suffice it to say, several of the objects are terrifying even without being juggled, and taken together, one doesn't quite believe they will be able to keep nine very different objects in the air, yet keep them in the air they do.

If you are looking for a fun evening of very real entertainment, catch the The Flying Karamazov Brothers at the Minetta Lane Theatre. You can even influence the show as it happens: there is segment of the show where audience members bring weird items to be juggled. Three items are picked. If they are successfully juggled, the audience owes the juggling brother a standing ovation, and if he fails, he gets a pie in the face. The night I was there, he successfully juggled a raw fish, a pile of raw bacon and a rain boot. And you thought people only brought raw fish to hockey games… Hmm, I wonder if they could juggle a hockey stick…



The cast was Amiel Martin (an understudy), Mark Ettinger, Andy Sapora (an understudy), and Stephen Bent. The show was produced and directed by Paul Magid.
Scenic Design: The Flying Karamazov Brothers
Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design: David Hutson
Juggling Czar: Rod Kimball
Original music and music director: Mark Ettinger
Choreographer: Doug Elkins
Original music: Doug Wieselman
Original music: Howard Patterson
Assistant Music Director: Stephen Bent
Press representatitive: Richard Kornberg & Associates
Advertising: Elizabeth Findlay
Marketing: HHC Marketing
Production Management: La Vie Productions
General Management: Two Step Productions
Associate Producer: Scott Perrin
Executive Producers: Roy Niederhoffer & Jenny Lebowitz

For more information, go to www.fkb.com.



Editor's note: at the time this show was reviewed, it was titled "The Flying Karamazov Brothers: 4Play".
Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger, Rod Kimball

Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger, Rod Kimball

Photo © & courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Paul Magid, Rod Kimball, Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger

Paul Magid, Rod Kimball, Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger

Photo © & courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Paul Magid, Rod Kimball, Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger

Paul Magid, Rod Kimball, Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger

Photo © & courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Paul Magid, Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger, Rod Kimball

Paul Magid, Stephen Bent, Mark Ettinger, Rod Kimball

Photo © & courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Stephen Bent, Paul Magid, Rod Kimball, Mark Ettinger

Stephen Bent, Paul Magid, Rod Kimball, Mark Ettinger

Photo © & courtesy of Carol Rosegg

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