Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Slava's Snow Show - Southampton (Tour)

Slava's Snow Show
Devised and directed by Slava
Reviewer: Jim Nicholson

I was hoping to be amazed, I wasn’t, I was expecting to be entertained and I certainly was, and all around me child after child and their parents were having the “night of their life”. Perhaps I was not as “drawn in” because of my midlife years, but if you have young kids, in actual fact, if you have any kids or perhaps you are just a big kid yourself then this is the show for you.

Half an hour before curtain up and the youngsters and parents alike are snowballing each other with the hoards of, tickertape like, white paper covering the floor of the theatre as if we had just encountered a very heavy snow shower. I warned a few not to pick up any that had gone yellow but the “supposed joke” appeared wasted as dad took yet another hit.

A short first act saw our hero Slava dressed in his fabulous lemon “baby grow” survive catastrophe at sea in his sailing bed and enjoy the company of a number of fellow clowns, all dressed alike in green coats with winged hats that seemed to have a life of their very own. Clever lighting helped each and every one of them bring a roar of laughter from the crowd with just a simple change of facial expression, bow of the head or pronounced mime.

No sign of any more snow yet but as the first half closed our main man finds himself stuck in a white “stretchy goo like net” that he manages to pass out into the audience and all of sudden this mess is not covering one or two of the crowd but each and every member of the thousand or so souls sat in the stalls. The reward for our stars escape though is an encounter with a huge green flying bug.

Sounds different, I should say so, but we were back to clowning as we know it best during the interval as the company joined the crowd and managed to dampen any one within reach as their umbrellas proved anything but water shielding.

So we enter act two and lop sided tables, coat stands, huge woollen telephones and a variety of other props enable our clowns to keep the laughter level high, and this leads to a very well worked crowd cheering competition where not a word is spoken but the wiggle of the little finger means so much to so many.

Then the snow really hits us in a literally breathtaking storm in which the crowd are engulfed with tons more paper snow whilst trying to stand upright in a wind that makes a Florida hurricane look like someone blowing out their birthday candles.

Then as the crowd start to get their breath back the show ends with them being bombarded with “beach balls” the size of garden sheds. Half an hour later they are still entertaining themselves as the balls are continually batted in the air, bounced off the walls, passed up to the circle with so many of them in play no one can relax for a single second.

The sheer joy on the faces of the youngsters was an absolute credit to the performers who included Charles Jeff Johnson, Tatiana Karamysheve, Robert Scalp, Bradford West, Georgiy Deliyev, Fransesco Bifano, Artem Zhimolokhov, Oleg Lugovsky and Yuri Musatov.

The show is obviously a work of love from its creator Slava Polunin and it is pretty clear why on it’s only ever visit to the West End it claimed that years (1988) Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.

I said at the start I was not amazed by the show and put that down to my gathering years, but as my wife said on the way out of the theatre when talking about our 11 year old niece “If this ever went to the Chichester Festival Theatre”, the kids hometown, “Emily would absolutely love it”. True enough, although I do not think it likely young Emily will get the chance to see such mess, goo, flooding, wind turbulence and sheer theatre mayhem, that makes this show such a success, at her local venue. That said I certainly don’t envy the Mayflower cleaners when they turn up for work tomorrow.
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