…ONE DAY I realised that I wanted to create a show that would take us back to our childhood dreams; A show which would help spectators be released from the jail of adulthood and rediscover their forgotten childhood.
Slava Polunin – creator of Slava’s Snow Show
A few weeks back a friend popped up on Facebook and asked if anyone fancied going to see Slava’s Snow Show. I’d seen a few clips of it from last year and immediately said yes. Roll forward to yesterday evening and I realised, as we took our seats, I didn’t really know what the show was about.
And I’m still not entirely sure today.
Aside from the main character, an old droopy clown in bright yellow, there are six other performers, all dressed similarly in green gowns, large clown feet and hats. They come and go, sometimes as integral parts of the performance, sometimes just to provide a moment of hilarity.
There is no dialogue to speak of but none is needed. This is largely a physical performance and, with the exception of one telephone exchange (which may be in Russian but the vocalisation doesn’t matter) the full range of emotions are expressed in a slow, controlled way, a tilt of a head, a lean of a shoulder, a beatific smile, or a simple look to the audience.
Nor is there a story as such, just a variety of set pieces that gently nudge you along, providing delight after delight. At times it teeters on the brink of something akin to tragedy, and the slightly grotesque quality of the performers adds a wonderful dark tone when needed, but then a sudden burst of physicality transforms the piece and you realise you’ve sat, rapt, with your own huge smile across your face the entire time.
Naturally what will stick in the mind of many are the prop driven extravaganzas, with the intermission preceded by a large cobweb type blanket being stretched from the stage all the way to the back of the stalls, the audience passing it over their hands and becoming one in the tangle of the fibres (which made the dash to the bar all the more interesting).
And then the finale. The weather turns, Slava is confronted with a snowstorm and suddenly giant fans start up, blasting the audience and filling the theatre with snow. Sitting in your chair, the air ripples past you, and you watch the oncoming snow storm until you are in it, with snow catching in your clothes as it swirls around you. It’s utterly utterly magical.
It turns out that Slava’s Snowshow isn’t really about the exceptional clown performances on stage, isn’t about the clever staging and use of props, and it isn’t about the perfect comic timing on display; watching a man fall off a chair three times in a row doesn’t SOUND funny but was hilarious.
At the end of the show, with massive inflatable spheres bouncing around over the audience, all I could see where smiling, happy, carefree faces. From the opening bars of La Petite Fille De La Mar (which wonderful encapsulates the off-kilter world you are about to enter) I was transformed from a curious adult looking for a diversion on a cold Wednesday evening, to a child, playing with a balloon in my parents front room at Christmas.
And, as the man himself said, that’s what the show is all about, and what a wonderful time we had rediscovering those childhood joys.