Slava’s Snowshow at Royal Festival Hall
Slava Polunin wanted to create a show that “would help spectators be released from the jail of adulthood and rediscover their forgotten childhood.” Slava’s Snowshow achieves this through pure phenomenon, felt and heard and seen. It celebrates the senses of theatre, relishing the simple but stunning effects that are only possible with live performance.
Assissiai the clown leads us through the show with a series of vignettes. Mostly mute, and relying on mime and spontaneous interactions with the audience, he captivates with his endearing naivety and childlike vulnerability. His humour is generated from little unexpected facial expressions, impeccable comic timing and a meticulous way of going about things; be it joining in a sing-a-long or sweeping the stage with his broom. Much of the comedy is in the minutiae, and though it veers close to slapstick at times it never quite spills into that territory.
The lighting is the other star of the show, creating euphoric moments that force you to ration your blinks for fear of missing one millisecond. A mystical, deep sea blue set is rippled through with bubbles that reflect a golden spotlight, then offset by a balloon lit vivid purple-pink; a smoke-filled stage seethes crimson.
There is a nod to traditional circus by way of toy accordions, whistles, huge clown shoes, red noses and balloons. There are magic tricks that you won’t quite be able to work out. Alongside these are the more spectacular effects; you’ll be caught in a furious blizzard, splashed with rain, swathed in billowing dry ice and entangled in a giant spider’s web. Slava’s Snowshow is a truly immersive experience.
The music supplies the final dimension, completing the effect. Well-known pieces of classical music and opera follow ethereal, eerie tinkles and mournful horns.
Assissiai and his troop of fellow clowns juxtapose moments of solemnity with silliness. Tragedy turns to glee as one sketch ends and the other begins. Despite its garnering many laughs, there’s an underlying melancholy that pervades much of the show, and this graduates into a moment of beautiful heartbreak as Assissiai interacts tenderly with an empty coat in the second half.
It’s a show that evokes raw, primordial joy and despair. Colours and sounds excite; Assissiai and his alien clown world inspire innocent wonder. Bring the whole family and be prepared for an incredible finale.
Slava’s Snow Show is on at Royal Festival Hall until 5th January 2015, for further information or to book visit here.