Juggling Troupe Visits Finney
Once upon a time, on the far-away planet of Karamazov, there lived
four eccentric brothers. They would spend hours tossing obscure
and random objects into the air. Phonebooks, eggs, meat cleavers
and dry ice littered the corners of their humble abode until they
finally perfected the art of juggling.
The Flying Karamazov Brothers may not actually be from another planet
(although this has not yet been proven), but their unique brand
of madcap humor and amazing juggling feats probably led some Finney
Chapel audience members to wonder. A delight for anyone’s
inner child, the show combined acting, musical interludes, fast-paced
humor and, of course, juggling of the highest quality.
Scanning the audience during Catch, one could find many a quizzical
face — the Brothers’ act was so random and disorganized
at times, it elicited the question, “Where the hell do they
came up with this stuff?” This is largely due to the fact
that Catch is a “best-of” compilation of skits performed
over the years. Parts of other shows, such as Juggle and Hyde and
The Flying Karamazov Brothers Do the Impossible were incorporated
into Friday night’s performance.
Yet, somehow, this zaniness was exactly what made the show so appealing.
The juggling skills of Makarov, Vanya, Misha and Nikita were inarguably
the most engaging aspect of the performance. The show began with
relatively basic bowling pin tossing but quickly progressed into
a chaotic montage of sketch-juggling comedy.
“The Gamble” asked audience members to contribute items
(heavier than 10 ounces, lighter than 10 pounds and no larger than
a breadbox) to be juggled 10 times by Brother Marakov. During this
particular performance, the winning items included a Cleveland Area
phone book and a giant stuffed snake.
Of course, the Brothers have contended with far more challenging
items. In past performances, objects included livers, computers
and ice cream. It seems that nothing is too daunting for the Brothers.
Throughout the entire show, the group intermittently presented the
“Nine Objects of Terror” ranging from a meat cleaver
and dry ice to a salt shaker — a very ominous object, indeed.
As the flaming torch spun into the air, the audience held its breath
in anticipation; luckily, there were no cleaver wounds or third
degree burns. The finale of Catch involved a successful tossing
of all the objects.
An especially remarkable skit in Catch involved bowling pins and
giant snare drums. As they juggled the pins, the brothers allowed
each to drop in time on the drum, beating out an intricate rhythm.
These skits proved the Brothers’ continued success in pushing
the limits of their abilities and traditional theater.
Equally impressive was the cast’s knowledge of the Oberlin
vibe. Many jokes and references were made to the current College
administration, little-known Oberlin artifacts and the Feve. Even
the “Falling Man” portrait in Mudd did not escape the
Without the addition of singing, acting and dancing, Catch would
merely be a juggling act. Remarkably, these extraneous skills are
hardly the product of extensive theatrical training. After meeting
in their University of Santa Cruz dorm, the original Karamazov Brothers
(Paul Magid, Howard Jay Patterson and Randy Nelson) coined their
name after Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and hit the
road in 1973. Since then, the Brothers have won an Obie Award, starred
with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in The Jewel of the Nile,
opened for and taught members of the Grateful Dead and performed
in venues all over the world.
The Flying Karamazov Brothers certainly made an impression on the
audience with their humor and juggling talents. While the show was
both stimulating and entertaining, a little more organization would
have made it easier to keep up with. Nonetheless, anyone who can
Polish clog dance while juggling and make it even remotely palpable
deserves some credit.