REVIEW: Southbank Centre - Slava's Snow Show

News Shopper: REVIEW: Southbank Centre - Slava's Snow Show REVIEW: Southbank Centre - Slava's Snow Show

CLOWNS divide opinion in a similar way to monkeys in clothes, Rod Hull and emu. You either find them hilarious or downright scary.

For me it has always been the latter thanks to my old school friend Kerry Steadman’s fifth birthday party when a nasty red-nosed clown sprayed water in my face, prompting all the kids to burst into laughter, and me into tears.

But as I followed a group of excited looking six-year-old girls into the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for a Christmas performance of the renowned Slava’s Snow Show, I told myself to ‘man up’ – and I’m thankful I did.

For these are not just any clowns, but Russian Tony award-nominated clowns, all the way from St Petersburg Circus.

The internationally acclaimed winners of the Time Out, Olivier and Drama Desk awards for ‘most unique theatrical performance’ have found a way of combining hilarity with poignancy – and exhilaration with sombreness.

The key to its success in 120 cities around the world is its beautifully subtle interaction with the audience.

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For those of you who, like myself, dread being picked upon in a crowd or forced to cheer, clap or shout inane catchphrases – fear not, for this show is in a league of its own.

Even the most stiff and cold-hearted individual would find it hard to sit silent and stoney-faced as a Slava clown casts a giant cobweb over the entire theatre audience.

Yes you will get a bit wet, and yes you will leave the venue looking like you have been caught in a snow storm, but the timing and the originality of the connections with the crowd make this the single most enthralling thing I have seen in a theatre.

Slava’s Snow Show is an assault upon the senses. Its beautifully crafted soundtrack has a Mike Oldfield electronica vibe which creates a dark but gripping tension throughout the entire performance.

Meanwhile, such is the talent of these clowns, the slightest flick of an arm or bat of an eyelid tells you so much about a complex storyline which is, of course, wordless.

Christmas is an emotional time of year where loved ones come together in joyous excitement but then return to their less-than-perfect lives in a matter of hours.

News Shopper: REVIEW: Southbank Centre - Slava's Snow Show

It is also a period of acute loneliness for others – a topic the theatrical clowns pinpoint on several occasions throughout the show.

The penultimate scene sees a clown appearing to say goodbye to an imaginary partner at a train station. 

But just as the image of his big red nose being gently and sadly stroked goodbye is about to render the audience inconsolable, the mood abruptly changes to what can only be described as riotous.

Loud music, cheering, lights brighter than the sun, and, of course, enough fake snow to fill a small quarry leaves every single member of the audience grinning from ear-to-ear.

Youngsters are left in total awe of the show’s visual feast while adults depart in a dizzy emotional mess - yet strangely at peace.

If you hate pantomimes but are yearning to be entertained this Christmas then get your festive behind down to the Southbank Centre before January 6.

Entertainment - 4.5/5

Atmosphere - 5/5

Value for money - 4/5

Tickets cost £20 to £49.50.

Visit southbankcentre.co.uk

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