Slava’s Snowshow has become a Christmas staple on the South Bank. Now returning for its fifth year, Slava Polunin’s not-so-conventional Christmas tale is meant for fun for all the family, but has caused a stir for some of the themes in the show itself. But does Slava’s Snow Show live up to its good and bad hype, and does it deserve to have its place in London’s Christmas routine?
The show follows a lost clown as he goes about his every day life. Along the way he bumps into mysterious clown creatures with little hops in their steps. The highs and lows are documented in an immersive fashion, and we experience everything from giant spider’s webs to snowstorms. The show itself is a reviewer’s worst nightmare, because it has no narrative, but who needs sense when you have tradition? Polunin sticks close to his roots with this show – something he likes to call ‘eccentric pantomime’. Children are encouraged to be involved with the show, with the character’s breaking the fourth wall as much as possible.
From the get go, the show takes you on a simple but visually wonderful spectacle. You are required to let your imagination run wild, but Polunin’s always mention this as his plan from the get go. We see moments like the yellow and green clown floating in the sea on a bed raft, or the yellow clown playing with little orbs of light; it is simple but so inspiring. It starts to make you feel at ease in some places, taking you to a place of childlike normality.
But with those inspiring moments, comes the sombre, almost tear-inducing moments (which is clearly documented in the show’s programme), but to the younger viewer this is disguised by the over-the- top movements from the performers. It is kind of hard to notice what they are actually trying to achieve with these scenes, considering that there is not much narrative to the show as a whole anyway. The show does need to decide whether it is going for style over substance, because we just cannot really make sense of it.
Slava’s Snowshow might not have made much sense, but the immersive spectacle that plays out over the course of an hour and a half still sucks you in any way. Sitting with my nine year old nephew by my side, those sad moments were overturned by the fun, while in the end I was emotionally bruised. It lives up to its family friendly name, but in a way you would not imagine.
Slava’s Snowshow is playing at Royal Festival Hall until 3 January 2016. For more information and tickets, see Slava Snow Show website.