This weird, musical, festive performance might be more for adults than kids… prepare to be creeped out!

Slava’s Snow Show – fitting for the Southbank Centre, this avant garde clown extravaganza is marketed towards the little ones yet geared towards the big ones. In the midst of the Winter Festivel, this is the Royal Festival Hall’s big seller, and the theatre was pretty packed for the evening’s performance.

My friend had seen the trailer for this, but I really didn’t know what to expect – I was expecting clowns, but Slava’s definition of clown is pretty loose, as is apparent, and reminiscent of the famous ‘sad clowns’ – the Pierrot. Of course, the kids going here just want to see some snow and funny stuff rather than be enticed by the set design, lighting and music – but all of these things work beautifully to create an atmospheric and visually stimulating performance. The costuming is delightful; the posse of creepy-ish clowns in trenchcoats and aviator hats make a great comical cast – until things turn darker later on, and they turn into a terrifying sort of bird people who kill off the main guy (I don’t know about the 8 year olds in the audience, but I was hiding under my seat). The brooding lighting of the opening sequence and the mesmerising coloured balls are captivating and kind of beautiful. It’s surreal, dark, and playful all intertwined.

The comedy is slapstick, which is more for the kids, and the plot can be hard to grasp as it’s so ‘out there’. All I can remember is that a clown meets some dude and goes on an adventure involving boats, bows and arrows, and a ten minute long phone conversation. But for the adults, it’s more of a sensory art performance – interspersed with moments of great audience participation. This is where Slava really steps up the entertainment, and I would have liked to have seen more of this, rather than the brunt of the performance being confined to the stage. Whether it’s wrapping the entire Festival Hall crowd up in faux spider’s web (be warned!) or the clown crew clambering around in the stalls with ingenious water-spurting umbrellas, Slava’s universally appealing comedy kicks up a gear.

As there’s not much snow involved (aside from the last part – I won’t spoil it!) I’m not sure if ‘snow show’ is the right title. Slava is definitely entertaining, albeit in a weird way. Just be sure your kids aren’t scared of clowns… or giant balls falling from the ceiling…

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