If watching a faceless Bunraku puppet emulate having oral sex with a hapless audience member is your idea of hilarious festive fun, then this is the show for you. As part of Theatre503’s Alternative Christmas double-bill, the popular group of puppeteers return with their difficult-to-like but impossible-to-ignore bad boy brothers of vaudeville; Boris and Sergey.
With enforced joining in and the kind of delivery that rarely dips below shouting, the performance initially feels aimed at eight year olds. However, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s for adults only, ideally ones who have had at least four pints and enjoy seeing something childish mashed together with sex and swearing. It’s an idea that has been done better, but perhaps not with such an in-yer-face attitude.
The rotating cast are excellent puppeteers and some of the musical numbers are beautifully choreographed, but while Boris and Sergey might relish the unstructured mayhem, they could really do with a proper story to take things beyond a series of anarchic skits. A remote controlled truck falling down the stairs is a highlight; less so a rambling poker game with Lee and Kate from the second row. While the company’s punk ethos is appealing, characters as obnoxious as this are an acquired taste.
Theatre503, London. Until 11 January.
Written for The Stage