Slava’s Snowshow – Review

Slava's Snowshow. Images A Lopez
Slava’s Snowshow. Images A Lopez

The welcome return of the legendary Slava’s Snowshow to London’s Royal Festival Hall for its annual Christmas residency is the perfect entrée into the festive season.

This remarkable production, back for its fifth Xmas, is a must-see if you’re looking for a truly magical, unique and funny show that will delight audiences of all ages.

Adults release their inner child while youngsters sit wide-eyed with wonder as strange little clowns create a series of extraordinary scenes that will make you laugh and cry.

Snowshow is a winning marriage of classical clowning, accompanying electronic music that ranges from Beethoven to Vangelis, eerie lighting effects and imagination.

slava snowshow

A bedframe becomes a boat and a broom its bow, sailing amid a sea of smoke and illusion, balloons become moons and a brief encounter with a hat-stand turns into a lover’s tearful goodbye that snowballs into the mother of all blizzards.

I first saw the show in 2006 and was instantly entranced. No-one else has ever come close to imitating this astounding and enchanting production, performed by a group of (mostly) mute clowns with their sad, quizzical faces.

It seems to have remained unchanged over the years, which, in itself, is unusual in a profession where productions regularly get re-staged and re-imagined.

As a huge fan of the production, I can’t complain but at some point in time I’d love to see Slava pull a fresh production out of his quite inimitable imagination.

And, because there is no language barrier, it is a show that has international appeal, captivating audiences from Hong Kong to Mexico, with its charm.

At the heart of the performance is a little clown with wild hair and a downcast face who is dressed in yellow with a red scarf and slippers.

He shuffles about, with tiny deliberate steps, pondering life, death, love, and beyond. He puts a rope over his neck…only to find another clown on the other end doing exactly the same thing.

Slava's Snowshow (32) Credit A.Lopez

A group of green clowns come on, passing by and dipping their floppy-eared hats in perfectly choreographed movements to the other-worldly music.

There are bubbles, Angels, little balloons, and a clown inside a giant bubble, moving silently across the stage in surreal dreamlike sequences.

I had always thought that the yellow clown was the great Slava, who created the piece, but, on reading the programme, he shares the role with any one of ten actors, while the group of green-clad clowns are a stable of 17 which includes women. Who knew?

The first Act ends with a giant cobweb covering the audience and passed over heads. The fibrous material gets everywhere (I was picking bits off my clothes for days) but younger theatre-goers are always astonished and excited by this simple effect.

The show lasts for about 80 minutes with the performers staying in the auditorium during the interval. There is a lot of water sloshed around so be prepared. The clowns climb over seats, help themselves to coats, handbags and anything else that take their fancy.

The finale is the most spectacular sequence you’ll ever see in a theatre, accompanied by Carl Orff’s soaring operatic cantata, Carmina Burana, and topped off with the audience on its feet for about 20 minutes or so postprandial play.

Unmissible and unforgettable. Slava’s Snowshow runs at London’s Royal Festival Hall until January 3.

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