Blessed with cod-Balkan accents and much greater expressiveness than you could credit a faceless leather marionette with, Boris and Sergey are a frequent delight in this throwaway but inventive puppet show. Manipulated by the youthful Flabbergast Theatre, with the six puppeteers ever-visible, voicing their bickering brother charges, Boris and Sergey embrace the classic double act setup of dumb and dumber – Sergey the scheming impresario of their dubious showbusiness operation; Boris the more maverick element forever undermining his sibling's ambitions.
Pursued by loan sharks after Boris' spectacular and ridiculously expensive entrance, their efforts at an old school dance number creak with the desperation of shysters masquerading as stars. A gameshow with an audience member to try and recoup some money finds Boris still blowing the opportunity despite Sergey rigging the contest.
Like Ernie Wise, Sergey has pretensions to cast off his stage partner to deliver a navel-gazing, one-man play. But he's reckoned without his lack of talent and the blind luck of his brother, setting up an archetypal vengeance tale with origins at least as old as Kane and Abel.
Although there are plenty of good jokes in the script, the production really benefits from so nakedly foregrounding its artifice, eking laughs and even plot twists out of there being insufficient puppeteers to operate three characters at once for example. The slick fluidity of the group in bringing the brother's world to life is similarly striking. Although a mite over-long and especially flabby towards the denouement, the fraternal relationship at the core of the show is a consistent hoot.