Slava's Snowshow (Tour- Bath Theatre Royal)

A show that delights from beginning to end, ”Slava’s Snowshow” provides eerily dark and astoundingly beautiful entertainment.

Slava's Snow Show
Slava's Snow Show

Born of Russian performance artist, Slava Polunin, on 31 December 1980, the serious little clown Assissiai became a huge success. Following Slava’s performance as part of Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria, he wanted to create a show that would ‘take us back to our childhood dreams’ and went on to create his own circus showcase. ‘A theatre of hopes and dreams, suffused with solitude and longing, premonitions and dillusions,’ Slava’s Snow Show is one of the most juvenile funny, eerily dark and astoundingly beautiful performances on stage today.

The art of clowning, not unlike Marmite, is something that has torn opinion straight down the middle, for many years. Whilst their exterior nature and slapstick pranks are set up to cause hilarity, many experience fear of their unusual features, which give off a sense of mysterious darkness. However, when it comes to clowning Slava hits the nail precisely on the head, tending to both fear and humour in equal measure.

Assissiai is not your average clown. His wearied make-up, fluffy little slippers and bewildered, innocent look, give him a childlike aura and enable you to warm to him instantly. To add to this, his oversized bright-yellow jumpsuit, allow him to move freely and employ more silly walks, along with his consortium of clown companions, than you would see in Monty Python.

For a show that claims to take you back to your childhood dreams, it certainly doesn’t leave out the nightmares! Creeping on to the stage, Assissiai’s story begins with a dark suicide-attempt scene – but fear not – the kids in the audience will be blissfully unaware of the shady denotation, as it is masked by an array of comedic flashes. Throughout the remaining scenes, the showcase fluctuates between the joyful spontaneity of abstract imaginings and the calamity and trepidation of fearsome incubuses.

Audience participation is key to this performance and the clowns rely on a number of audience reactions, to make the show quite such a success. From a giant cobweb stretching out from the stage over the heads of the stalls, to paper snow and bubbles falling from the sky, this awe-inspiring performance is laced with mystery. One particularly special scene features the simple art of balancing a bubble on a stick and is reminiscent of my childhood visualisations of the dream-catching BFG.

Despite no real storyline, or even an obvious theme, this is a well linked performance.. The scene transitions are faultless and the second-long blackouts allow the perfect amount of time to change dream sequences from a stunning trapeze artist, to a knitting clown and more.

As the show comes to a close, there is a growing sense of anticipation and the music, which is spectacular throughout, starts to build. You know something impressive is about to happen. Sitting at the back of the audience, you suddenly see a torrent of white, coming at you from the stage and a dramatic snowstorm thunders toward you to the backing of Carmina Burana’s ‘Oh Fortuna’. Then, just when you think it is all over, giant inflatable balls are unleashed on the audience from the sky, bouncing around to a ten-minute reprise.

There is not a singular moment that fails to delight the senses throughout Slava’s Snow Show. Whether it is the infectious laughter of children in the audience, the infantile actions of the clowns or the spectacularly magical theatrical effects, the performance leaves you with an entirely carefree and enriched, childlike sensation; the sort of feeling you reflect upon as an adult with warmth and longing. Nothing quite compares to that.