While reviewing children’s theatre in London, I’ve sat in shows where I’ve been rained on and snowed on and dazzled by circus tricksters, quirky costumes and stage acts jumping into the audience.
Slava’s Snow Show has all that and something more: an almost heartbreakingly beautiful quality that’s hard to put into words.
The multiple award-winning clown performance has been stunning and seducing crowds across the world for decades.
Russian performance artist Slava Polunin created the show partly as a way to help adults reconnect with their childhood selves.
This is clowning as you’ve never seen it before – even the hardest coulrophobes will leave grinning and with a new appreciation for the art form.
It all begins with one clown, Slava’s alter-ego, mysteriously growing and shrinking in his baggy yellow suit.
He’s joined by other long-eared, big-shoed fellas in a series of scenes that each tells a story, through slapstick and the subtlest of gestures. An atmospheric soundtrack, featuring everything from arias to bossa nova beats, carries the action along.
‘The music’s funny, Mum, it’s kind of eerie,’ said my 7-year-old.
Ezra was goggle-eyed through much of the performance, particularly as a giant spider’s web enveloped us from the stage. And I’ll never forget the delight on his face at the finale, as giant balls and balloons are launched at the audience.
But my favourite moment is what we refer to as the ‘telephone part’, a masterpiece of comic theatre that had both of us laughing uncontrollably, literally clutching each other and our bellies at the silliness of it all.
The show is recommended for ages 8 and older although we spotted lots of younger ones around. Some of the humour is on the dark side for little kids (under 3s aren’t admitted) and we left my 4-year-old at home.
However, Ezra kept saying, ‘I wish Jed was here to see this!’ and we’ll definitely take him along to a future performance if the opportunity comes up.
Slava’s Snow Show is playful, undeniably powerful (feel the force of that snow storm!), sometimes painfully funny. And coming out of the show is like waking up from a dream that you’ve shared with a roomful of strangers. A dream that nobody seems to want to end.
A truly magical evening out.
EZRA’S REVIEW (AGE 7 AND THREE QUARTERS)
‘I think it was a very funny, exciting and unforgettable show. The clowns were very silly, in fact they were hilarious. The music was kind of a tiny bit freaky. I really liked the part at the end where there was big balls flying around!’
Slava’s Snow Show is at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 (Embankment/Waterloo tube). Recommended for ages 8+. NB: no under 3s allowed. 2.30pm & 7.30pm, also 6pm Suns; £20-£65 (Dec 17-Jan 7)