The Flying Karamazov Brothers, at Royal George Theatre Center, through January 19. So many shows today have imperative titles: Stomp, Blast!, and now Catch!, a 90-minute jugglefest by the Flying Karamazov Brothers. Ever since their dazzling debut in Goodman Theatre’s A Comedy of Errors three decades ago, they’ve been convulsing Chicago (“our second hometown”) and Broadway with awesome acrobatics and literate neo-vaudeville. Neither Russian nor brothers, these guys do make things fly, whether they’re juggling six sickles without so much as a paper cut or forcing latecomers to hustle in supposed shame across the stage. (The tardy ones took their disgrace well.)
Veteran Howard Jay Patterson sets the standard for witty patter as he takes on the challenge of juggling three unlikely objects contributed by the audience. (On opening night he deftly kept in motion some limp tofu, a sagging squash, and a rabbit-eared TV antenna.) Paul Magid gamely spoofs his exotic looks (airports have become hell for him since 9/11). And younger “brothers” Mark Ettinger and Roderick Kimball make the most of their one-liners. Overall the fab four display plenty of moxie, juggling while reciting Stoppard dialogue, spoofing Korean sacred drumming by beating a cardboard box to shreds, and hurling themselves into the Euro/white-trash world of Polish-Appalachian clog dancing.
But their greatest gift is finding the humor in adversity. For them dropping a club is just another (literal) running joke. These seasoned zanies not only make it look easy, they make it feel real.