Boris and Sergey's Vaudevillian Christmas Adventure
After a sell-out run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Flabbergast Theatre brings its award-winning show to Theatre503, Battersea. Formed in 2010, Flabbergast hopes to explore puppetry for adult audiences.
Specialists in the traditional Japanese style of Bunraku puppetry—where the manipulators are in full view—a team of six brings Balkan bad boys Boris and Sergey to life in this wildly entertaining, chaotic vaudeville act.
Leathery, faceless Boris and Sergey stand just over a foot tall and are operated by three puppeteers apiece, with voices provided by Dylan Tate and Stephen Spencer.
With no facial features—other than a line of stitching—it is essential that the puppeteers work seamlessly together in order to bring Boris and Sergey to life. Thankfully, the ensemble effortlessly fulfils this requirement and within moments they fade into the background.
Tate and Spencer use their voices wonderfully to give Boris and Sergey their personalities; their comic timing faultless—one joke particularly springs to mind, which left me laughing for far too long.
Due to its improvised nature, the show suffers from a lack of structure with drops in pace from time to time. However, the audience participation along with a top-notch soundtrack ensure that lulls don't affect the production too much.
In spite of ‘Christmas’ being included in the title, apart from a Santa hat and a “Walking in the Air” sequence, there is a distinct lack of festive spirit. This is, of course, by no means a negative for the less time spent on Christmas the better, in my opinion.
Each puppeteer should be commended for their efforts, for they are nothing short of remarkable. Whilst it may not be as ‘discerningly twisted’ as promised, Boris and Sergey’s Vaudevillian Christmas Adventure is a brilliant alternative to the usual Christmas gush available.
Reviewer: Sean Brooks