The Yisrotel hotel chain has been running a series of what they call “variety shows” under the moniker “Wow” for seven years now. The latest entry, Wow-Love, is directed by pantomime legend Hanoch Rosen and, as the name implies, tells of the power of love to transform the mundane.
Staged in the Yisrotel Royal Garden Hotel’s private theater, the show includes some 20 dancers, computer-generated animation, a sophisticated light show and a varied soundtrack with music as diverse as Astor Piazzolla tangos and Arabic tunes.
It becomes pretty clear just minutes after the performance begins why the show is called “Wow.” The level of acrobatics performed on stage is first rate, with many maneuvers leaving the audience audibly gasping in astonishment.
Not so much a variety show, Wow-Love is more of a circus act, composed of independent numbers, which is meant to amaze rather than to be funny.
An animation bustling city is projected on the stage curtains and the view centers on a window in an office building. As the curtains part, a sole janitor cleaning the “office” is joined within seconds by the entire cast in a beautifully choreographed scene describing the busy, relentless routine of the blue-collar residents of every metropolis. At the end of the scene, only a gloomy boss, dismayed by the down-turned graphs, and his secretary remain, but she manages to bring up his – and the crowd’s – spirits with a virtuoso juggling act that employs her hands, neck and feet and ends with a rhythm she produces by juggling fluorescent balls on the darkened stage against the membrane walls of a huge plastic triangle.
At the end of the scene, the curtains draw back, and the janitor, who turns out to be a clown, uses some audience participation gimmickry to pass the minutes needed to change backgrounds on the stage behind. This routine will repeat throughout the show’s hour-and-a-half duration, with the clown either taking center-stage or introducing a musical segment accompanied by animation.
Most numbers are performed by couples, with each pair showcasing its expertise: A couple on skates has the man and woman demonstrating the principle of centrifugal forces to dizzying effect, while a pair of acrobats show that it really is possible for a man to do stand on one hand with a lady standing on his head on one leg.
Another couple, twins, performs somersaults in unison and other athletic trickery involving props similar to Olympic parallel bars. A man and a woman explore the effects of gravitational forces on the jaw as, suspended in midair, he holds his partner through a contraption attached to his mouth.
IN ONE of the show’s most breathtaking moments, four men form human pyramids where, among other things, one performs a corkscrew in the air and lands into the hands of two of his fellows, who catch him so that when he lands he stands at the height of their shoulders.
Each of these scenes is beautifully choreographed, with the stage props and lighting evoking familiar stories from the world of fairy-tale or literature. Thus one scene has outfits taken out of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
while another is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
. Other scenes are more abstract but still revolve around a theme, like the marine world or belly dancing.
While the set pieces are beautifully designed and the costumes in some of the numbers charming and elaborate, the plot is just a framework and not the main point of the show.
An ensemble scene at the end of the performance merges elements of the office from the first act with elements of a forest, the overall message being something along the lines of “love will alleviate the ennui of modern life.”
But again, Wow-Love is not about telling a story but rather simply the bringing together of a team of expert acrobats (probably some of the world’s best) and just letting them show off their abilities to the crowd’s amazement.
While I personally found the announcer-clown’s interjections to be the show’s weakest parts, they integrate well with the overall mise-en-scene and are probably enjoyable to younger members of the audience.
The computer graphics, although not of Pixar quality, are certainly effective in making the transition between moods and taking the audience from scene to scene.
Rosen’s touch as a mime is felt, more than anything, in the opening ensemble scene at the office, which is also one of the most beautiful from a dance perspective.
Apart from director Rosen, Wow-Love brings together 20 performers from
countries around the world, including Russia, Canada, the Ukraine,
Australia and Israel.
If you’re in Eilat and grow weary of
doing the beached-whale tanning routine and the heat, Wow-Love is not
to be missed. If anything, after watching the show you’ll feel guilty
for not doing more exercise. The show, suitable for ages four
and up, runs at 8:30 p.m, Monday through Saturday, until October, at
the Yisrotel Theater. Admission is NIS 110.