Slava’s Snowshow at Southbank Centre
Back in 1980, veteran performance artist Slava Polunin created a character that has been growing and evolving ever since. A pensive clown who looks at the world with childlike wonder, Assissiai is a droll and melancholy figure who keeps the audience hypnotized, provoking laughter with the subtlest gestures and facial expressions. Slava trusts in the power of minimalism and old-fashioned theatre and is rewarded with approval and admiration from children and adults alike.
When creating this show, Slava’s intent was to “release spectators from the jail of adulthood and make them rediscover their forgotten childhood”. The universal language of mime reawakens the audience’s infantile curiosity and is a reminder that emotions can be stirred with the utmost simplicity. The show shifts back and forth from beautiful, otherworldly visuals to explosive carnivalesque features. Whenever the comedy subsides, a dreamlike atmosphere takes its place. Fantastical creatures drift across the stage and magical tricks of light and shade pull the viewers into a mesmerising trance.
Dressed in yellow and sporting a sorrowful expression, Assissiai wins the audience’s sympathy as he clumsily interacts with a group of green, long-footed clowns and attempts to figure out how the things around him work. One moment he has a conversation with himself through two fluffy telephones, and in another scene he reluctantly says farewell to a coat on a hat stand. Since the episodes are random and do not follow any specific structure or linear narrative, the audience watches Slava’s every move with the utmost attention, eager to catch his next unpredictable action.
A Beckettian character with a twist, Assissiai makes a virtue of tragicomedy by producing a variety of feelings in the audience. Aside from Slava’s magnetic presence, the grandeur of the special effects and the perfectly fitting soundtrack are impressive. A snow storm engulfing the entire hall makes for a very festive finale that turns the venue into a big playground where everyone joins in with the fun. The interactive elements are truly spectacular and it is clear that even 35 years after its creation, Slava’s Snowshow still charms on every level.
Slava’s Snowshow is on at the Southbank Centre from 16th December until 3rd January 2016, for further information or to book visit here.