The L.A. premiere of “Slava’s Snowshow,” part of UCLA Live’s International Theater Festival, is unique in the best kind of way — a simple collection of creative scenes capable of transforming an audience of adults into delighted children.
Similar to Cirque de Soleil, “Slava’s” spotlights the art of the clown. The main character, Yellow (Polunin), is a bedraggled-looking fellow in a yellow outfit, seemingly just trying to go about his business. He is frequently interrupted by several other clowns, all of them wearing green coats, floppy black shoes, and threadbare hats.
A surreal sequence involving the manipulation of balloons is topped by the entry of a large balloon that contains a clown within it, followed by an effect that fills the stage with a glittering rainstorm. In another scene, a small spider web expands massively as a cottony web eventually covers the audience. And the blizzard that ends the show, filling the room with snowflake-sized pieces of paper, is astonishing.
The entire ensemble is excellent, whether climbing into the crowd or belly-sliding onstage in a shark costume. Polunin’s direction is a happy mixture of the absurd and the spectacular.
Rastyam Dubinnikov’s sound design is a vigorous and important part of the show, and Alexander Pechersky’s lighting excels, from lighting a single balloon to blazing out blindingly at the audience during the finale.