Saturday, November 23, 2019

Slava Snowshow - A Wonderful World to Visit

Reviewed by Judd Hollander

Clowns exist in their own pocket universe. A point from which they can project everything from a childlike innocence to a bit of misguided whimsy, a can-do attitude, or a feeling of being slightly apart from everything else. All as they deal with whatever situation they find themselves in. Such is the effect of Slava’s Snowshow. Created by Russian performance artist Slava Polunin, this absolutely delightful undertaking has returned to the New York stage just in time for the holidays. First seen in New York in 2004, the show reached Broadway four years later and now makes a triumphant return there at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

When seeing this rotating company of clowns upon the stage, (the actual members performing often changes from day to day) an image of a moth-eaten goony bird comes to mind. The group, except for the lead clown, clad in floppy hats, oversize coats and oversize shoes as they shamble about in a sort of parody of conformity. That is, until someone or something shakes things up a bit. Though as quickly becomes obvious, they're not always the brightest lights bulbs in the drawer. A point made clear when one of the group tries to outsmart the others over a bit of food, only to fall victim to the very trap he set for everyone else. Other slightly off-center occurrences can be seen during encounters with giant telephones; a jacket on a hanger which begins to have a personality all its own; and a tiny room - complete with table, chair and occupant – that's set on an angle. At least that’s how it appears to those of us observing the action from a "normal" plane of reality.

                                       Slava Snowshow  - Snowball. Photo by Veronique Vial

Deeper meanings aside, the chief attraction of the show is the window it offers to this very unique wonderland. One containing odd landscapes, giant balloons, and a massive blizzard of white. Everything presented with just enough familiarity to partially ground things in the real world. Thus allowing the audience to easily relate to what’s happening while they go quite willingly along for the ride. The folks watching all this getting continually involved in the story whether they want to or not. Thanks to some the company members who continually and enthusiastically interact with those in attendance.

Presented with almost no spoken dialogue, the use of music plays a key part in the festivities. Each such interlude meshing perfectly with the comedic elements the performers bring forth in the separate segments. Among the music used are the themes from “Peter Gunn” and “Chariots of Fire”. The latter featured in a sequence with a sail boat, an ocean liner, and a shark; among other elements.

Slava Snowshow -  Colour balloons in the audience, Photo by Veronique Vial

Children will delight in this very enjoyable offering – Indeed, I often heard shrieks of glee at the performance I attended - while adults will get a chance to become reacquainted with their own inner child as the show progresses. After all, there is something very appealing about seeing a clown with a butterfly net as he attempts to catch, well, whatever. Events eventually culminating with a comic confluence that makes one feel as if it’s the planets themselves that are colliding. The entire experience being one you will not soon forget.

A treat for all ages, Slava’s Snowshow is the perfect antidote for the holiday blues and one show you very definitely do not want to miss.

Featuring: Slava Polunin, Francesco Bifano, Spencer Chandler, Georgiy Deliyev, Alexandre Frish, Vanya Polunin, Robert Saralp, Nikolai Terentiev, Elena Ushakova, Aelita West, Bradford West, Artem Zhimo

Slava’s Snowshow

By arrangement with Slava and Gwenael Allan
Created and Staged by Slava Polunin

Marketing Strategy & Direction: On the Rialto
Advertising: Serino Coyne
Digital Marketing & Advertising: Arthouse
Press Representative: Vivacity Media Group

Scenography: Slava Polunin/Victor Plotnikov
Production Management: Tinc Productions
Production Stage Manager: Lee Micklin
Legal Counsel: Nevin Law Group
Company Manager: Joel Glassman
General Management: KGM Theatrical

Stephen Sondheim Theatre
124 West 43rd Street
Tickets: 212-239-6200,,
Running Time: 1 Hour 40 minutes, including one intermission
Closes January 5, 2020

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