Snowballing out of control

Tom Bonnick

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.


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