BWW Reviews: SLAVA'S SNOWSHOW, Royal Festival Hall, December 18 2013

BWW Reviews: SLAVA'S SNOWSHOW, Royal Festival Hall, December 18 2013

Like a giant teddy bear in a red nose, the Yellow Clown chases a balloon one minute, kicks through snow the next and, occasionally, clambers into the audience. He's a clown, but often a sad one, alone at first, until... Mayhem! The Green Clowns - a troupe with malevolence and chaos as their guiding lights - shake up the Yellow Clown's world until they reach a kind of compromise in which they understand each others' needs and, through companionship and generosity, live better lives together than apart.

If this all sounds a little worthy, a little more Brussels sprouts than Christmas pud, it's only in the re-telling rather than the telling. That's because the little stories that comprise this show's episodic 90 minutes or so, are each a sensory delight. There's the snow of course - millions of shreds of ticker-tape flung and blasted into the house. There's the music - folk, popular, operatic - that matches the moods of the clowns as they cavort. Most of all, there is the clowning itself - something more akin to ballet than to circus, each movement precise, the body describing lines and shapes that tell us of each character's emotions.

If that's the pay-off for adults, there were kids all around me incapable of avoiding shouting out things like "Look at his silly walk!" or giggling uncontrollably every time the Yellow Clown spoke nonsense into the telephone. The kids really did love it. Some will be a little scared - which clowns do not carry a little fear-inducing baggage with them? - but most will be enchanted and entertained, as will adults with or without children to help them point, laugh and, well, the finale is a masterpiece of audience participation, but I shan't spoil it.

Slava's Snowshow (continuing at the Royal Festival Hall until 6 January) is unlike anything you have ever seen before - and probably unlike anything you'll ever see again.

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Gary Naylor Gary Naylor is chief reviewer for and feels privileged to see so much of London's theatre.

He writes about cricket at and also for The Guardian, Spin Cricket and Channel Five and commentates at His writing on films and other subjects is at

Comments are always welcome.


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