About 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, to my left TV news anchor Belkys Nerey smiled as her daughter was showered in 10,000 tiny bits of paper. To my right, a dignified Russian woman giggled nonstop as her 70-year-old mom was bonked on the head with a 20-foot diameter, air-pumped ball.
All around the grand hall of the half-billion-dollar Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Parts, fans guffawed as funky weirdness – in the form of Russian clowns -- made ‘em forget about recession and war….Slava’s SnowShow had come to town.
I loved the show, which runs through August 31 and costs $55 (too steep – the sole drawback). There’s lots of humor and some drama – starting when the lead clown – Slava Polunin -- puts a noose around his neck at the beginning of the show. It continues during the show’s best gag, when he cleverly uses a coat rack and a hat to make it look as if he’s saying good-bye at a train station. And it’s most sensory moment comes when the entire crowd is covered several times by an enormous sheet of that rip-away cotton people use to decorate their homes at Halloween.
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Polunin, who is now the most famous Russian clown in the world, represents a long history of circus that reached its pinnacle in 1987 or so, when the state-supported Moscow circus had 70 buildings and 50 traveling shows. The Russkiis, then in the heart of Commie angst, invested every penny into a circus as a way to mollify the people. And, more than vodka, it worked.
Now it may just work for us. So go to the Arsht Center, you loon, and relax. You won’t regret it.