It’s nearly a quarter of a century since Slava Polunin debuted his Snow Show. Described by Polunin as “a comical meditation on life, death, and the beauty of the universe”, it’s been a hit in over 80 countries, along the way becoming a 20th and now 21st Century theatrical classic.
At a purely surface level, there is much to wonder at: both adult and child can revel in the unfolding beauty of the visual effects, and the finely detailed clowning, but there is so much more to marvel at in the subtle subtext. The thread of longing, loss and loneliness threads its melancholy but beautifully affecting and touching way through the whole evening. Polunin himself has expressed his desire to extend the boundaries of clowning and “dive into tragicomedy, to measure the extent to which one can fuse drama with language”, and he thoroughly succeeds: the ghosts of Gogol and Beckett are evident in the over-arching atmosphere of the evening.
The vignettes, play out to an eclectic but emotive soundtrack. Highlights include the spider web that engulfs the entire stalls of the auditorium, the giant colourful bouncing balls let loose on the crowd that bring out our inner child, the beautifully touching sequence with a coat-rack, and the stunning, snow storm finale to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
The meaning behind each set-piece will almost certainly be over the heads of the children and it bears noting that small portions of the action could be unsettling for the youngest audience members, but it is breathtakingly beautiful and the awe on the faces of the children as the action unfolds is a delight to see. It is also proof that the language and art of clowning is truly universal.
To feel part of the show make sure you are sitting in the stalls, if you are happy to be an onlooker then the circles and gallery are the place for you, and don’t stay out of the auditorium too long at the interval as the mayhem continues in grand style.
Proof that thoughtful, gentle and truly beautiful theatre has global appeal.
Runs until 11 November 2017 | Image: Vladimir Mushukov