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Slava’s Snow Show, Royal Festival Hall – Review

Pros: You’re unlikely to see anything quite like this anywhere else. happily its uniquely irresistible

Cons: Anyone looking for any kind of clear narrative or thematic structure will be left bewildered, and probably pretty disappointed

Pros: You’re unlikely to see anything quite like this anywhere else. happily its uniquely irresistible Cons: Anyone looking for any kind of clear narrative or thematic structure will be left bewildered, and probably pretty disappointed Standing in the auditorium of the Royal Festival Hall, dodging the massive inflatable balls being hurled around by the audience, I began to wonder what the hell was going on. It was 9pm on a cold December evening, I was playing an elaborate game of extreme dodgeball and literally having the time of my life. I’d just seen Slava Polunin’s Snow Show (or simply Slava’s Snow Show),…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

An absurd and delightful experience almost certain to lift the spirits of even the most ardent scrooges

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Standing in the auditorium of the Royal Festival Hall, dodging the massive inflatable balls being hurled around by the audience, I began to wonder what the hell was going on. It was 9pm on a cold December evening, I was playing an elaborate game of extreme dodgeball and literally having the time of my life. I’d just seen Slava Polunin’s Snow Show (or simply Slava’s Snow Show), which was in equal parts funny, tragic, and brilliant. Although this bizarre show, running now for almost twenty-five years, had technically finished, almost the entire audience stayed behind to chuck brightly coloured orbs at each other in a kind of collective abandon, each of them grinning from ear to ear.

To refer to Slava’s Snow Show as ‘unusual’ would be an understatement. From its sinister beginning to its spectacular finish, the whole thing oozes an intangible charm difficult either to resist or understand. I gave up trying to pick up on any concrete narrative or thematic threads, and instead sat back to enjoy this force of nature. Polunin asks the audience to enter his surreal world, and few seem to refuse; I was surrounded by people of all ages who were willingly transported by the melancholic action they saw unfolding before them. This atmosphere was only slightly spoiled by two moronic clowns (who were not part of the show, I hasten to add) sitting behind me, who, in their eagerness to demonstrate appreciation for the expert work of the performers on stage, came close to ruining it. Bah, humbug!

Despite the spectacular set-pieces throughout the show, which are brilliant fun, Slava’s Snow Show is actually a very subtle piece, the success of which depends in no small part on the skill of the performers. There is no dialogue in the piece, and many of the vignettes appear silly and nonsensical. However, it is still never anything other than incredibly watchable; warmth emanates from the performance, even in its darker moments, and is received and reciprocated by the audience. It’s easy to see that the production will not be for everyone, particularly on paper, but the fact that it has played in locations around the world for almost a quarter of a century is testament to its magnetic appeal.

Creator: Slava Polunin
Producer: Lunchbox Theatrical Productions/Southbank Centre
Box office: 020 3879 9555
Booking link: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/119777-slavas-snowshow-201718
Booking until: 4th January 2018

About Hugo Nicholson

Hugo Nicholson
Hugo is an actor, producer and competitive stone skimmer from County Durham. A highlight of his career post-university was working as a scarer in the basement Madame Tussauds, where his ghoulishness was such that he was more than once struck hard in the face by tourists, and forced to call an emergency stop. He now spends his time above ground, watching theatre and often writing about it.