Royal Festival Hall – until 4 January 2018. Reviewed by Lisa Harlow
Shows featuring clowns haven’t always been held in my highest regard in the past. Thankfully this international award winner deserves all of its accolades. The audience warmly embraced this return visit of Slava and his clowns from the start. I had wondered if my own return visit would leave me as enraptured as my first. I wasn’t disappointed.
The initial dysphoric opening quickly melts into an emotive and beautifully orchestrated collaboration of light, shadow, humour and music. Each scene is intriguing enough to leave you agog at what you might find behind the next magic mirror. The set is simple but the lighting and gentle, perfectly synchronised moves of the clowns enable the most magical imaginary worlds to be created in front of your eyes. The clowns’ demeanour, with their outlandish outfits, droopy red noses and hangdog faces bring life and rip roaring humour to a range of objects and surprising scenarios. There’s the heart soaring music of Vangelis whilst sailing on a bedstead, triumphant ship hornblowing with an avalanche of bubbles, a romantic interlude with a coat stand….
The interactions with the crowd are as heart warming and engaging as I remembered: a dramatic death, spider’s webbing engulfing the entire audience, naughty water spraying, the clowns’ realising they could conduct the audience’s cheers and the most magnificent snow storm which literally takes your breath away.
There seems to be no underlying plot or thread to the events outside of surreal dream humoour, gorgeous musical soundtrack and the regular interlude of hauntingly lit balloons. I can’t explain how the general ambience of musical melancholy and occasional clown angst somehow leaves you feeling uplifted and inspired but it does. This is a magical spectacle and it keeps the adults and children alike captivated throughout. I felt it had ended far too soon. There is the opportunity for more balloon and clown fun at the end for the whole audience but I won’t spoil the surprise – and allow you to find out for yourself (along with the snowflakes you will find amongst your things several days later!)
A show not to miss, wonderful Winter whoopee!