“They’re not Russian, they don’t fly and they’re not brothers,” is the marketing tagline of this kilted group, but one thing they definitely can claim to be is the most unexpectedly talented group of performers.
Stunts, songs, jokes, dance and surprising skill not just in juggling, but also in musicianship and working the crowd make the Karamazov Brothers a unique show somewhere between organised chaos and the most original circus act you can see on stage. It is as though four friends decided, on a whim, to put on a variety act, and succeeded. Costumes vary from the devil in a white tuxedo to multicoloured monks, via mildly disturbing ballerinas. The Brothers juggle ukuleles, umbrellas, even an Argos catalogue, but it is not just a clown show; they played piano, trumpet, trombone, clarinet and guitar. You can tell from the need for lists that these guys have a lot to offer and really do provide an eclectic mix of entertainment.
A largely unseen form of audience interaction destroys theatrical tradition and truly encompasses the old nature of vaudeville theatre, as the brothers harass a young woman with cardboard and other strange ‘souvenirs’, and throw a meerkat toy at a boy on the front row.
Seldom do I find myself leaning forward to get a better view, allowing myself loud guffaws at the onstage antics and willing them to do something even more daring – like juggling dry ice for instance. They even managed to get a few lines of Hamlet in there.
For something entirely different, slightly absurd, but real feel-good theatre, the Karamazov Brothers offer a new take on theatre and are not afraid to question English convention… in fact it’s the brunt of most of their jokes. From eating roses to a rather surreal stint of ballet, even when they make mistakes they recover with ease and comedy, making this show a must-see production for all ages and temperaments, as it’s sure to get a smile from even the most traditional patron. And how often are you requested to howl like a wolf from the stalls?