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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Boris and Sergey’s Vaudevillian Adventure

Flabbergast theatre

Genre: Puppetry


 Pleasance Down Below


Low Down

Two puppets seemingly on the run from Interpol come to Edinburgh to con the public. With a series of set pieces they achieve that and perform with some excellent puppeteering in a late night cabaret that was very well received by the late night crowd.


You see, I don’t get it. I struggle with Family Guy (Brian disturbs me), Seth MacFarlane is not my genius, South Park left me cold and even the Simpsons is something that I would change channel to avoid. The subversion of children’s mediums was once clever. But now can we progress from the foul mouthed clichés and into something worthy of discussion? Maybe it is just me; maybe I am too old.

The beginning of this dissension from the masses begins with the script. I know that I will be in a minority as the vast majority of people who came and saw this seemed to adore it. They laughed, applauded and were delighted by it. It started as a Vaudevillian act and ended up a chase sequence. It was when it was that chase and had some form of story to it that I warmed. Up till then the structure of the piece did not capture me but in fairness it seemed to delight everyone else…

I did wonder if the script would have stood up without the puppets. I then came to the conclusion it would not. Then I wondered if I was being too harsh, taking the characters away and expecting characterisation. I then heard the voice of Brian Conley shouting, “It’s only a puppet!” but it is more than that. If this is to have legs beyond the end of pier humour then it requires some sophistication. The characters are ugly ones and purposefully so. I am not convinced that the script stands up properly without their presence but their presence is central to the script. Two actors playing these parts would not have had the same effect. But then again some of the physical interplay would have been impossible. It left me right in the middle of a quandary.

The puppetry was great. There were few slips and the interplay between puppets and puppeteers worked particularly well. I enjoyed the disruption of form to achieve comic effect. Not original but done with an originality of spirit. Being able to play with the form suggests confidence within the production. Such confidence was well deserved. This was done well not just because it could be done but because it was done by highly skilled puppeteers. Their skills could or should perhaps be better suited to more challenging work than playing late night to people full of the demon drink. That, having been said, it is work.

Puppetry has come into its own in recent years with this style of adult environment and of the types that I have seen this is as good if not better than some that I have seen. At least it did not just depend upon the vulgar though the clearly sexist innuendo with the young woman volunteer was more Manning than manly. The problem is that dressing up some of the lame material with a couple of relics of a bygone age does not excuse the fact that the material is lame. Sometimes as here, it highlights and underlines it.

I therefore realise that I shall probably be alone in not being overly enthusiastic about Boris and Sergey, though I am looking forward to seeing how this genre develops. I could see a series of movie spoofs with Boris and Sergey as Turner and Hooch or in a Planes, Trains and Automobiles setting – but there again I am giving away my age…