They juggle, dance and do magic, but most of all, "Max and Frossie--Stage Players" clown around uproariously at Santa Monica's Powerhouse Theatre in their "original comedy with magic for children."
Max and Frossie are Eugene Kozhevnikov and Olga Serova, an appealing husband-and-wife team who trained at the Moscow School of Circus and Variety Arts.
The pair emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1979 (after being denied exit visas for three years) and have been touring since then in a satiric revue for adults protesting the Soviet Union's emigration policy against Jews.
Their performance for children is strictly for fun--yet, for all its slapstick antics, the show goes a little deeper than simply circus burlesque.
Greedy Uncle Max (Kozhevnikov) wants the spotlight for himself and is not about to let his assistant, Frossie, share it.
Serova's Frossie is a wide-eyed innocent, eager to have fun and quick to forgive Max for his mischief at her expense. She's only temporarily daunted in her efforts to prove she's as good a magician as he is and refuses to give up, not even when it seems she'll never succeed.
Max's comic takes of beetle-browed frustration are masterfully timed as Frossie, in her pig-tailed wig and upturned putty nose, munches apples she's supposed to juggle, drinks the tea she's supposed to make vanish and shows up his trickery with childlike enthusiasm. Never mean-spirited, Frossie ultimately punctures Max's inflated ego and teaches him something about sharing--and caring.
Performing in front of a patchwork curtain, dressed in patchwork clothes and oversize shoes, the pair offer nonstop energy accented in colorful English--"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, now I do vanishing cereal plate trick"--in an enormously appealing blend of old world charm and cartoon exuberance.
The show runs indefinitely at 3116 2nd St. on Sundays at 1 p.m. (213) 329-6529.