Slava's Snowshow

No dialogue, no plot, only miraculous and abstract moments on which to fix your own meaning


Through May 7

Tickets are $37-75


Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), S.F.

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Russian-born Slava Polunin loves his theater "full of longing and loneliness, losses and disillusionment," so it makes strange sense that he has (deservedly) become a world-famous clown, is president of the Academy of Fools, and is the creator and heart of the sensational Slava's Snowshow. Sure, the show features some big shoe-in-the-face high jinks, especially during intermission, but it isn't focused on how many horn-honking clowns can fit into a little car; it's more about being steered through emotional extremes. Polunin is primarily interested in creating dream vignettes of wonderment, curiosity, and heartbreak, as when his small boat gets hit by an oil tanker or two lovers speak gibberish to each other on huge foam telephones. There's no dialogue or plot, only miraculous and sometimes abstract moments — such as a figure walking inside a glowing balloon — that allow the audience to superimpose its own meaning, while smoke machines work in overdrive and music from the far corners of the globe underscores the vision. The finale, which Polunin also performed in Cirque du Soleil's Alegría, is true heart-pounding astonishment. When the smoke clears and the gigantic balloons crash down, look for the old clown sitting unobtrusively in the audience like a quiet child, eyes aglow, watching the oblivious grown-ups gleefully bomb each other with snow confetti.

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