Sunday, July 15 , 2018, 11:01 pm | Fair 68º

 
 
 
 

Review: Flying Karamazov Brothers Take Act to New Heights

The comic jugglers — and the audience — have a ball during their high-flying performance at The Granada

No, they can’t fly. They aren’t actually brothers. And that’s not even their real name. Yet, on Friday evening at The Granada, the Flying Karamazov Brothers presented an evening of the most authentic entertainment one is ever likely to see.

Paul Magid, who founded the ensemble in 1973 and is the sole remaining original member, greeted the audience at the opening of the show by asking everyone to stand, turn around and shake the hand of the person behind them. After a few seconds of confusion, turning and finding no hand to shake, reality — and self-effacing laughter — set in and the audience took their seats again, aware that it was going to be no ordinary evening at the theater.

Often billed as a juggling troupe, the Flying Karamazov Brothers are indeed virtuosos of this art, but they offer so much more. Combining elements of theater, dance, music, pantomime, slapstick and audience participation, each performer is musician, hoofer, clown and ringmaster all in one. They even make music while juggling, with their props — musical instruments and anything that isn’t nailed down.

Dressed in dashing assemblages of utilikilts and black ties, Magid, Mark Ettinger, Roderick Kimball and Stephen Bent were certainly adept at weaving the various elements along with a healthy dose of vaudevillian humor. But their juggling prowess was where the magic resided.

They juggled balls, clubs and eggs, and in the grand finale, a combination of items as far-ranging as a cleaver, a skillet, a block of dry ice, a flaming torch and a stuffed fish. In one bit, they took contributed items from the audience and narrowed them down to three using the applause-o-meter method. As a result, Magid juggled a motorcycle helmet, a child’s down vest and a large bra for a count of 10, thus earning a standing ovation.

They made it look so easy that it was often possible to forget how staggeringly difficult the feats are and how many hundreds of hours of practice must have gone into their flawless execution.

Although it wasn’t always flawless, and it perhaps gave the audience a different view into the art form. With clubs, the four created intricate patterns, passing them back and forth so fast among themselves that it was nearly impossible to see them, let alone get one’s mind around the level of expertise being displayed.

Magid announced at the beginning of the segment that dropped clubs were a reality in juggling and that when it occurred, the audience was to trust that the clubs would be picked up and put back into play without delay. Indeed, it did happen a few times. And sure enough, the retrieval of the clubs became part of the act, the banter between performers easy and relaxed, and even the act of picking them up had to be woven into the dance.

It was easy then to imagine them as young men decades earlier in Harvard Square or the streets of San Francisco — learning by doing, working the crowds, cultivating the skill, chatter and chops necessary to make it in the world of street performing — perhaps unaware that the groundwork they were laying would make it possible for them to one day advance to some of the grandest theaters in the world.

It made clearer the humanity in all of us, and the fact that no one is perfect. It was also a beautiful reminder that it’s how gracefully you pick up what’s been dropped and get back into the flow that’s important.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and reviewer.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >