Slava’s Snowshow is set in a winter landscape and combines beautiful comic performances from a host of clowns each with their own individual personalities, with a dazzling assault on the senses, immersing the audience in a winter wonderland of wide eyed wonder.
Slava’s Snowshow is a visually tantalising and immersive experience that is a world away from the big top clowning that we are so used to. Thankfully there were no buckets of glitter or a small car with the doors falling off anywhere in sight. This was much more intelligent humour that appeals to both adults and children and pleasingly rejects the slapstick tomfoolery that is so often seen performed by circus clowns.
The show itself has no dialogue and no narrative, but is more a collection of set pieces, which overlap each other like a flow of consciousness or a surreal dream. The humour is subtle and gentle, but very funny, with the cast evoking laughter from the audience with nothing more than a facial expression, a subtle gesture or either a tiny or exaggerated movement. The whole show has an almost childlike innocence to it, which seemed to successfully regress the majority of the audience back to their childhood.
The style of the piece was very reminiscent of the silent comedies of the 30’s and 40’s, and the performances by the cast were remarkable. Just by the raising of an eyebrow or by the widening of their smile, they were able to convey a variety of emotions to the audience and garner genuine empathy and warmth towards the characters. This is simple, non-offensive and innocent humour that is family friendly and based on a purely physical performance, coupled with perfect and precise comic timing.
The set itself was very basic, but the use of smoke, lighting and various other techniques, including bubbles, paper snow and a simply stunning soundtrack, brought the whole thing to life in a beautiful and sometimes dramatic fashion. The audience were literally drawn into the show as the on stage performances extended out into the theatre itself, with everything from covering the audience in a huge spider’s web, walking over the top of the seats throughout the stalls and having snow fall from the roof, it ensured that those watching were very much a part of the show. You can’t help but find yourself sitting and wondering what will happen next. The ending of the show is not one that will be spoilt in this review, but it builds to a spectacular close that quite literally takes your breath away.
Slava’s Snowshow is not a piece of theatre that is easy to categorise. You could define it as a clown’s equivalent to Cirque Du Soleil. You could class it as a piece of performance art, or as the embodiment of a well-crafted and traditional theatrical art form with a modern spin. It is not for everyone, and would no doubt be a very divisive piece of theatre. You are likely to either, really buy into it and love it, or you will not really connect with it and it will not be your thing. But, if you are looking for something that’s more of an experience than a show, or you simply want a change from the usual musicals or plays, then this would be ideal. Just allow yourself to be carried away in the piece and enjoy it.
To get the best out of this show, book seats in the front half of the stalls and ensure that you stay around for the interval, as just because the show stops for a break, the clowning around in the theatre doesn’t!
Slava’s Snowshow is currently at the Sheffield Lyceum until Sunday 24th November 2013 here
before continuing on its national tour and heading for London. Details can be found on the show’s official website here.
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.