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The Flying Karamazov Brothers Are Timeless

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After 37 years of performances, you'd think that a show would lose its luster. At some point, the performers would lose their passion or precision for their tricks. But that's not the case for Paul Magid, the only original founder of the Flying Karamazov group that is still at it after all these years.

Magid's assembled a younger trio of performers to accompany him on stage for his new show, 4Play, playing at the Minetta Lane Theatre in the Village, which has only allowed him to work a new set of antics into his show. Magid relies on his aging body as part of his shtick - while the whole cast appearing in tutus is a funny image, it's Magid's that makes it that much more absurd. Beyond the physical comedy, Magid brings his decades of expertise performing as part of the Karamazov pack to the show by taking center stage for some of the show's oldest tricks: They let the crowd pick three objects for Magid to juggle, and he hurriedly hurls pins back to the others during an incredibly choreographed 4-man routine.

But let me step back for a second and explain what The Flying Karamazov Brothers do that makes them so entertaining. It's something best seen, instead of described. While researching old footage on YouTube, I came across routines from 1983. It's quite striking to see other people perform some of the amazing tricks you saw earlier that week, tricks you couldn't believe others would be able to pull off. Here's a sample from the Karamazov artillery:

When you play so much of your show fast and loose, things are bound to go wrong. Magid explains to the audience in 4Play that they drop a pin from time to time, and that's not a cause for concern. The performers are trained to roll with whatever happens, even if mistakes happen. But that's part of what's so alluring about 4Play - when an egg breaks on stage, and you're not sure whether it was intentional or not, you can't predict what's going to happen next; you never know when the show has gone off track.

While it's the juggling feats that have made the Karamazovs so prominent, they excel in all kinds of other areas from music to slapstick comedy to dance. The show has a little bit of everything. I guess that's what happens when you spent nearly 40 years honing your skills, responding to audience enjoyment, and developing a show that pushes the limits of what people would consider possible. Not only does it seem that Magid's having fun after all these years, it appears he's still hard at work figuring out what else he can do.