The technical choreography from Flabbergast Theatre that delivers this consistently joyful, yet bleak, puppetry extravaganza is exceptional. Boris & Sergey, leather puppet brothers from the Balkans, are typical anti-heroes who are struggling to hold together their deeply competitive relationship long enough to pull through their hour-long variety show.
This is definitely designed as a puppet show for adults
Very quickly, however, it becomes apparent that this show is much more ambitious than just a comic hour of various routines, and the story of the contrasting career successes of the two brothers quickly spirals out into a broad tale of rags and riches. The show conveys an impressive range of emotions from them both, particularly as neither have any facial features at all, and somehow the puppeteers find time to star as cameo characters themselves. And they have even found unexpected ways to get the puppets to break the fourth wall.
Equally expansive is the ever-increasing use of props, lighting and sound effects to bring to life Boris and Sergey’s adventures out in the wider world. There are puppets representing souls, puppets in disguise, and even a tense, climactic puppet fight scene. The six highly-skilled puppeteers seem able to effortlessly animate them and their precarious tempers throughout, leaving plenty of creative space for witty ad-libs and cutting banter. I should mention that they are consistently rude throughout, and this is definitely designed as a puppet show for adults, but holding the attentions of a drunken crowd throughout probably makes this an even more impressive achievement.
An early highlight is an exceptionally funny, and almost certainly rigged, version of their problematic game show What’s In the Box and there are plenty of laughs to be had in witnessing a helpless audience member be ruthlessly beaten and insulted by a leather sack. Very quickly, however, this is usurped by the hilarious tribulations of Boris’ adjustment to the fast-paced encounters of Broadway fame, and there is real joy to be had in witnessing these small puppets gone large.