Slava's Snowshow (Southbank Centre)
With stunning visual effects and plenty of snow, this dreamlike show is like nothing you've seen before
Back this Christmas for a fourth year at the Royal Festival Hall, Slava's Snowshow is part of the wider winter festival at the South Bank, and brings you the closest you'll get to being in a blizzard without going north.
First performed back in 1993, the show was developed by Russian performance artist Slava Polunin, and it's been performed in 80 countries around the world.
Slava the clown looks like a lost teddy bear in his fluffy onesie and slippers. He's alone, but is joined by a succession of strange, tattered woodland creatures whose floppy headgear makes them look like bunnies who've lost their bounce.
The set is made of giant stuffed mattresses, suggesting we're all part of an imaginative world of dreams, and the surreal quality of some of the scenarios adds to this sensation.
But some of these dreams are pretty disturbing, especially for little children. Slava's first entrance has him shuffling onto the stage carrying a noose, which he puts around his neck. Later in the show he emerges stuck through with arrows, and does a dance of death to Rodrigo's Aranjuez guitar concerto. There's also a shipwreck, though the skateboarding shark is an entertaining danger.
Some of Slava's mime and clowning scenes have more obvious child-appeal. In particular, his nonsense conversations on giant fluffy telephones had some of the best laughs from the young audience.
And there's an effective piece of audience participation led by the bunnies, who coax impressive sound effects from the crowd. The company's interval antics also bring a more light-hearted feel to events, as they spray water, climb over seats and generally create mayhem.
However, this is a show that occasionally looks as though it's being performed in slow motion. Deliberate, considered movement allows plenty of time for thought, but with such a young audience its pace sometimes feels a little too dreamlike.
But all these considerations are swept away by the spectacular, immersive visual effects the show has become famous for, bringing the audience irresistibly into the heart of the action.
The first half closes with a giant cobweb netting everyone, while the finale sees all the youngsters leaping in the aisles and sitting on dad's shoulders as they join in with a gigantic balloon game. And of course, there's the snow.
These stunning moments are the memories children will take away with them, making this a special Christmas treat.
For more information and to book tickets, click here.