BREATH-TAKING, boisterous and brilliant, Slava’s Snowshow is a rare thing, an evening of world-class clowning that will lift your heart and release your inner child.
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FESTIVAL THEATRE, Nicolson Street
First, however, take everything you know about clowns and leave it in the theatre foyer, except maybe that thing about the ‘tears of a clown’.
A story with a dark heart, one that soars above the heads of the kids in the audience, Slava’s Snowshow, created by Slava Polunin, who was named artistic director of the St Petersburg Russian State Circus in 2013, has become legendary since it premiered in 1995.
Its hero, the Yellow Clown, enters slowly, sad, carrying a noose - which he soon places around his neck.
It’s from this jumping off point that his story unfolds through a series of absurd little vignettes.
His is a surreal world, peopled by a rabble of interfering Green Clowns.
It’s a place where a bed and broom become a sailing ship, where you can take your pet balloon for a walk, and where otherworldly creatures lurk in the smoke and shadows.
The result is that the (after-life?) adventures of our despondent little anti-hero are magical.
Slava’s Snowshow is a triumph of physicality, a precise mix of mime, choreography, physical theatre and clowning its creator calls ‘eccentric pantomime’.
Robert Saralp is mesmerising as the Yellow Clown who creates spell-binding illusions only to knock them down a moment later before rebuilding them to even greater effect.
He understands the art of going nowhere fast, expressing himself through carefully calculated moves, glances and sounds - one routine with a suitcase and coat-stand is simply sublime.
Throughout it all - the first act is just 30 minutes, the second 45 - he is on a journey.
The familiar mischief of the circus isn’t eschewed altogether, however, as the clown troupe engage in high jinx with the audience - prepare to get wet.
Stunning finales at the end of each act quite literally weave a web of wonder and leave those watching blown away, before a truly eccentric ‘playtime’ ensures that adults and children alike depart equally awe-struck.
A masterpiece of clowing.
Until Sunday 5 November