Editor’s Note: This review of Slava’s Snowshow is based heavily on a story Bill Hirschman wrote for the South Florida Sun Sentinel when the production was last in South Florida exactly five years ago.
By Bill Hirschman
If anybody dares you to bet your sports car that it won’t snow in Miami in August, better go find your pink slip. There’s a blizzard inside the Arsht Center that’ll have you picking white stuff out of your hair even if you sit in the back row.
And that’s not even the mouth-dropping coda to Slava’s Snowshow, a Russian-based fantasia that showcases classic clown skills against the showmanship and stagecraft of a Cirque du Soleil production.
Armed with smoke, spotlights, soap bubbles, plastic bubbles, confetti, wind machines, wacky costumes, a very loud and eclectic score (Claire de Lune to The Peter Gunn Theme), and a cast whose bodies bobble like cartoon characters, this all-too-brief production will delight entire families including young teens determined not to like anything.
It’s a procession of self-contained skits starring a rubber-faced sad sack and his mute buddies whose circus train has stopped at some snow-covered wonderland. While the special effects are impressive, it’s the simple but effective clowning that transcends language. At one point, the nonsense-speaking Slava portrays both teenagers on a telephone trying to hook up for a date; in another, he plays a child going away to boarding school and the mother comforting him.
No doubt, the geniuses responsible for this vision (creator and star Slava Polunin, director Victor Kramer and a deft sound-and-light team) could give you some artistic mumbo-jumbo about how there is a deep message about releasing the joy and wonder of our inner child or some such rot. In truth, there is less plot line than a Cirque production and less of a unifying theme than something from the Ringling Bros.’ oeuvre.
Who cares! Between the boundless imagination of these artists and their ingenuity in involving the entire audience directly inside the proceedings (we just can’t give you any spoilers), this is a thoroughly satisfying half-evening’s entertainment.
So if your kids are tired of hearing what winter up north used to be like, bring ’em along and show them Christmas in August.
To see a copy of the current show’s Playbill, click here.
To see videos of the show, click here.
Slava’s Snowshow plays through Aug. 25 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Running time 90 minutes. Tickets are $25-$75 Call (305) 949-6672 or visit www.arshtcenter.org.