It’s not often that I would consider reviewing a piece of theatre. I love plays, art shows and certain musicals but the fact is that going out to see one of these where I live is far too expensive; indeed, ticket prices of £40-50 are now commonplace among London’s many theatres. However, it is also not often that I have been so captivated by a show as I was with Slava Polunin’s exquisite Snowshow, a spectacle on a grand scale which has kept me coming back again and again whenever he returns to the English capital.
Slava Polunin was born in Russia and has been a clown for many years, though not in the conventional sense. Taking inspiration from classic mime Marcel Marceau as well as the silent-film legends of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, Slava views clowning as an art form, and an extensively beautiful one at that. Slava’s Snowshow, which has been running since 1993, is something special indeed, a tour-de-force of ideas and expression, a dazzling spectacle of colour and ingenuity, a humorous ode to the great visualists of the 20th century. It runs for barely an hour and a half yet is sure to bring even the most cynical of theatre-goers back to their childhood, a limitless world of imagination.
Slava walks onto the stage when the show commences, looking for somewhere to hang himself. He pulls the rope leading offstage, which turns out to be rather long. As the audience explode into fits of laughter Slava discovers that at the other end of the is a younger clown in the same clothing. A gang of other clowns soon make their way onto the stage, their green costumes complete with ridiculously long shoes and very wide hats. The show barely pauses for breath from that moment on, not even in the intermission, during which the clowns climb on the backs of the seats, spraying water and shovelling fake snow on the audience. There’s barely any speech, but the sheer brilliance of the visual staging and hilarity ensures its global appeal.
I’ve seen it three times and I still think it’s absolutely wonderful. The depth of the audience participation, genius of the show itself and grandiose special effects make it one of the most unique things you will ever experience. Go and see Slava. He may not return for a few years, but go and see him. And like me, you’ll almost certainly be back for more.
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