Slava Polunin's ambition has always been to re-establish the tradition of clowning to a wide audience. Instead of relying on pratfalls and fast paced tomfoolery, he loves the poetry and insanity of the clown act. Sounds like a tall order but from the opening of Slava's Snowshow you are aware this is like nothing you have seen before. Smoke fills the stage and the clowns emerge like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, majestic, yet almost alien. Slowly but surely the audience warm to these shy characters and then the slapstick that you are used to appears.
This is a very interactive show as all the elements - including rain and snow - land at your feet if you are sat in the first few rows of the stalls. The younger members of the audience at the matinee I attended loved these involving parts of the piece. You may feel left out if you are sat high up, although Clowns do appear there so not to leave anyone too excluded.
Slava's Snowshow is not without its faults though. The first half is quite slow and the erratic sketches leave you scratching your head. Much of the humour in this act is too dark for little ones. But act two really brings events to life. One scene involving a sticky spider's web leaves the audience feeling entangled within the narrative, literally!
The finale featuring a snowstorm is absolutely beautiful. Audience members smile from ear to ear as this section leaves even the most ardent arm folder involved on every level.
As if that isn’t enough, the theatre resembles a giant playground in the last few minutes which leaves grown ups and children alike on their feet joining in. I won’t ruin the surprise – but let’s just say huge toys are used here.
Revel in the innocence and beauty on display and Slava’s quirky, original snow show will leave you feeling uplifted as opposed to cold.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Lowry, Salford)