Theater Spotlight: Snowman

Emily Zimmer as Freya in <i>Snowman</i>

Emily Zimmer as Freya in Snowman

Kira Obolensky's fable, visualized and directed by Michael Sommers, is a weird, unsettling thing, sporadically beautiful, rife with undercurrents of despair—much like the season in which we find ourselves. The action takes place in a town where it snows and snows with no end in sight, and where the citizens either freeze to death, succumb to melancholy, or, in the case of Duncan (Lee Chriski), drink themselves silly. Rays of off-kilter hope appear with the ethereal young Freya (Emily Zimmer), riding out the storm, and the supernatural Gossamer (Elise Langer), whose elongated fingers double as sweet treats (yes, we're cruising on rails of alternative logic here). Still more cause for optimism arrives in the form of a mysterious snowman who shows up singing songs designed to "keep the fear at bay." This is the kind of show to which you have to hand yourself over. Sommers's puppets, in all shapes and sizes, vie for idea space with Michael Murnane's glacially lush projections and light effects, flowing from one moment to the next through evocations of frozen sterility, stark desperation, and transient wonder. With a running time of less than an hour, this is a production that could well resonate with younger viewers (whose minders don't mind a little mild profanity). But this work doesn't seem to be aimed at a particular generation. It manages the nifty trick of pulling elements from our subconscious (talking crows, skittering mice, a sadly malevolent wood creature) and winding them through a story that rings with the truth of a half-remembered dream. The town's mayor (Julian McFaul), meanwhile, storms about cursing, railing at anything that would alter the order of things. He's like the alarm clock that harshly brings us back from the undertow of myth that emerges when we sleep, and despite the thin hope this show's ending brings, at least we have the satisfaction of seeing him blown away in the wind.