‘We’re gonna scam these fuckers real good’ confides Sergey to his brother Boris behind a shielding screen. Unfortunately for Sergey they could not have failed more profoundly. Vaudevillian Adventure is a delightfully imaginative and riotous experience through which I was beaming constantly. The eponymous characters are lewd, crude and so very, very rude - it’s a miracle they can get away with how they treat their audience. At least it would be if they weren’t puppets and consequently utterly charming. The leather homunculi swear like sailors and frequently abuse each other and the crowd, yet it never feels alienating or malicious: just hilarious.
The show takes rather a strange format. There’s a vague plotline about the duo trying to con the audience in a game of poker but managing to arouse a dark power interspersed with some limited dramatic conflict; a framing device more than anything, the loose arc connects specific skits. The set ‘moments’ themselves are very strong. One involves Shakespeare, on a blood orange (‘the most dangerous fruit’), with thumb tacks and party poppers. This is every bit as awesome as it sounds and more. Another, involving baby Boris & Sergey, forced out the most high-pitched ‘Aww’ I think I have ever given in my life.
The puppetry itself is marvellous. Three performers control each character and work in complete harmony with each other, even in unchoreographed moments of connecting banter. The puppets move in a slightly angular fashion reminiscent of stop-motion animation - it’s a wonderfully whimsical touch juxtaposed against the filth emanating from their general direction.
Sometimes the show lost its pacing a little during unscripted sections: the voice actors need to sharpen up their back-and-forth - it was often repetitive and devoid of the crude wit that filled the script. Comebacks would not occur instantly and the payoff wasn’t usually worth the wait. Fortunately, there were few sections that required off-the-cuff performance and they did not tend to last long.
A barrel of laughs from start to finish, Vaudevillian adventure is endearing yet naughty and will have you snickering like a schoolchild.