by Slava Polunin.

Royal Festival Hall South Bank Centre Belvedere Road SE1 8XX To 3 January 2016.
2pm 20, 27 Dec, 3 Jan.
2.30pm 18, 19, 22-24, 26, 28-30 Dec, 2 Jan.
5.30pm 20 Dec, 1, 3 Jan.
7.30pm 18, 19, 22, 23, 26, 28-30 Dec, 2 Jan.

TICKETS: 0844 847 9910.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 17 December.

Impressive in scale rather than content.
This is the fifth successive December that Russian clown Slava Polunin and his troupe have returned to the Royal Festival Hall with this show (which they have also been touring internationally for many more years), making it a London event far more regular than a White Christmas.

Aimed at 5+, this is large-scale – virtually industrial scale at times. Yet despite close involvement of the audience, in a number of ways that are familiar from other groups (such as the late Ken Campbell’s), there’s a curious sense of distance between Slava’s troupe and his keen spectators. The show can impress, but it doesn’t make you its friend.

Between the big set-pieces, (a net spread across the entire audience, the revelation of a giant turbine that throws a ticker-tape ‘snowstorm’ the distance of the entire Festival Hall, or the final minutes of this shortish show which gives up on snow, or indeed showing very much, leaving the audience to bounce huge coloured circular shapes over their heads – come quieter moments.

These are presumably at least part of what Polunin’s personal programme-note speaks of when he refers to an introspective interest in the art of clowning. This might include, too, the several parades where clowns with particularly wide head-gear file past each other, instinctively – it seems – angling their heads so their hats don’t collide.

Or there’s Slava solo, doing a Sisyphus act, attempting to roll a huge ball across the stage. As is the case with clowns, anything that chances along comes as a surprise and a challenge.

Good ideas all, but with the sections and their musical atmospheres kept definitely separate, there’s no room for development, nor is there any encouragement to see how scenes play-off each other. That probably doesn’t matter for the lower end of the recommended age range, who will judge by thrills of the moment, or lack of them.

But, for minds that have started asking how one section relates to another, and looking for an overall sense of progress and coherence between sections, it’s difficult to know what, in the end, Slava’s snowshow does have to say.

Yellow/Green Clowns: Slava Polunin, Ivan Volkov, Georgy Deliev, Jeff Johnson, Artem Zhimolokhov, Onofrio Colucci, Oleg Lugovsky, Fedor Makarov, Robert Saralp, Derek Scott.
Green Clowns: Boris Barsky, Francesco Bifani, Spencer Chandler, Tatiana Fedoseeva, Alexander Frisch, Robert Gorodetsky, Tatiana Karamysheva, Boris Khibner, Chris Lynam, Yuri Musatov, Elena Ushakova, Evgeny Perevalov, Ivan Polunin, Nikolai Terentiev, Stanislav Varkki, Aelita West, Bradford West.

Director: Victor Kramer.
Designers: Viktor Plotnikov, Sslava Polunin.
Musical Directors: Roman Dubinnikov, Slava Polunin.

2015-12-31 14:50:21

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