Hailed as a theatrical masterpiece, Slava’s Snow Show has been winning audiences across the globe for twenty-five years now. It’s creator, Slava Polunin, created the show with the aim of transporting adults back to their childhood dreams, saying, he wanted “a theatre on the edge between art and life, tragedy and comedy, absurdity and innocence… eluding all definition and uniformity”. I think we can safely agree that he has absolutely achieved his dream.
It is impossible to define the Snow Show, it is as bemusing as it is beguiling, exuding a gloriously intangible quality as the landscapes shift between dream and nightmare. As Polunin’s beloved character, Assissiai, plods about the stage in a somewhat baffled manner, a perpetual question hangs in the air – where is this going? The answer: nowhere. The first hour of the show, although visually arresting, moves slowly, and we see our troupe of clowns shuffling across the stage with seemingly little direction, to an assortment of bleak and eerie sounds, punctuated only by the odd slapstick vignette.
Whilst this seems to be the aim of the Polunin, it does leave a bewildered feeling as a spectator. Though we must applaud him for achieving his aim – as he succeeds in pushing the audience to the very edge of how much you can enjoy watching these odd little characters, with no narrative or coherency to carry you through.
The infamous finale is the salvation for this bewildering experience, as a furious snowstorm violently blasts from the stage and pelts the stunned audience with shreds of white paper in a cacophony of light and movement, which quite literally, takes the breath away. This alone merits the thunderous applause with which it was received. Add to that the unexpected arrival of enormous, bouncing, brightly coloured balls, lunged into the crowd, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting the comparatively uneventful preceding hour. Kids will delight in the frolics – just make sure to get a seat in the stalls if you want to be part of the action