Karamazov Brothers: flying objects and flying gags; The Flying Karamazov Brothers. Sometimes described as ''juggling and cheap theatrics.''
After touching down briefly here on two previous occasions, the Flying Karamazov Brothers have landed on Broadway at the newly refurbished Ritz Theatre. It's one of the happiest and most tumultuous landings of the season.Skip to next paragraph
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As their numerous devotees know full well, the Karamazovs are not Russian, do not fly, and are brothers only in their dedication to juggling and hilarity. Their show, entitled naturally ''The Flying Karamazov Brothers,'' does feature flying objects, flying gags, and flights of music.
The vaudeville begins with an overture of brassy tootlings in which Brothers Howard Jay Patterson and Paul David Magid demonstrate their prowess by performing with an onstage band quintet. While the band members don't juggle in the literal sense, each plays at least three instruments (one as many as eight). The musicians are costumed in uniforms that look like Ringling Brothers castoffs. The Karamazovs wear black pantaloons and blouses. Picturesque and humoresque, like the carnival setting lighted by Marc B. Weiss.
The band disappears on each side of the stage and the Karamazovs take over. After that, it looks like every brother for himself instead of what it is - an extraordinary display of skill, teamwork, and improvisation. Anyone who supposes that two acts of juggling are at least one act too many hasn't spent an evening with the Karamazovs. These wild and crazy guys are the greatest thing since Beef Stroganoff.
Among the objects thrown and caught are plastic ninepins, sickles, flaming torches, hats, dueling foils, and apples.
Demonstrating practically that ''juggling is rhythm and music is rhythm,'' the Karamazovs play a medley for xylophones and percussion - all done a la jugglery. In a challenge juggle, Howard Jay Patterson accepts three objects from the audience (no lighter than an ounce and no larger than a breadbox). If Mr. Patterson beats the 10-second time limit, he gets a standing ovation. If not, he gets a pie in the face. At the preview I attended, he juggled a squid, a small potted plant, and a box of computer confetti - and earned his ovation. The climactic fling of the performance features about 10 miscellaneous objects, including a frying pan and an egg. It has to be seen to be believed.
The Karamazovs also juggle allusions to art and literature: Picasso, Stoppard , Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Greek tragedy, and the like. One brother - referring to the possibility of a torn costume - wisecracks: ''If Euripides, Eumenides.'' In a sense, too, the Karamazovs juggle their audiences. Four of the five brothers began as street entertainers. They know every trick of working the crowd and playing to the gallery - not to mention the orchestra. At the Ritz, the spectators respond with gusto. They come in on cue and en masse. Hecklers are summarily and humorously dealt with.
For the record, here are the jugglers and their Karamazov names: Mr. Patterson (Ivan), Mr. Williams (Smerdyakov), Mr. Furst (Fyodor), Randy Nelson (Alyosha), and Mr. Magid (Dmitri). What more can I tell you?