Beauty is, that old maxim goes, in the eye of the beholder, and with the exception of Julianne Moore, whose beauty is wholly objective, this has always been one cliché I have subscribed to.
Bearing that in mind, it was with feathers a’ ruffled that I attended Slava’s Snowshow. “This is the single most beautiful thing I have ever seen in a theatre in my life”, screamed Simon Callow in the press release. Who are you, I thought, other than an award winning actor, writer and director, to tell me what’s beautiful, Callow?
Thankfully, my passive-aggressive phases never last long, and this one quickly subsided to gave way to a bout of furiously wracking the brain to think of things which were, in fact, more beautiful than what I was witnessing on stage. If any comparison could be drawn to Slava’s Snowshow it would be with Cirque Du Soleil — a troop to which the eponymous clown once belonged — except that this does away with all the acrobatic nonsense, and demonstrates instead proper clowning at its purest; as a true art form.
Drawing in part on a rich tradition of physical comedy in the Charlie Chaplin/ Buster Keaton mode, the show, directed by Slava himself, gracefully brings together a whole series of characters, themes and ideas.
The sheer, brilliant talent of the performers is at once both absolutely crucial to the production, whilst also being artfully understated — the other major element of the evening, grand visual display, chiefly featuring snow — would fall flat without the anarchic spirit of Slava and his fellow clowns, and yet they act in a sort of deference to larger spectacle, bringing an endearing humility to their characters.
The choice of music is at times perplexingly incongruous with the action — and truly, Carmina Burana ought to be banned from use on stage, such is its chronic overuse — but that is mere aside. Unless I ever marry, or live within binocular range of, Julianne Moore, this really could be the most beautiful thing I will ever see on stage.