Happily melancholic (or melancholically happy if you prefer) clown Slava returns to Edinburgh with his multi-award winning spectacle SLAVA’S SNOW SHOW, a pre-festive treat for young and old and one of the most unique shows you will ever see.

First created in 1993, Russian clown Slava Polunin – together with his oddball ensemble of fellow clowns – has stormed the most respected venues the world has to offer with his dazzling show that combines fairy-tale fantasies with absurd and surreal dream as well as melancholy longings. What we witness is a succession of wordless vignettes and sequences which seem border on the plain barmy and amusing but look deeper and you will recognize aspects of sadness, melancholia, restrained body language (as opposed to ott capers) and brilliantly lit visions of dreams and nightmares alike. Perhaps some of the sequences are almost too complex for children to grasp while others, more cheerful and light-hearted sketches, see Slava and some of his fellow clowns performing to the tunes of ‘Blue Canary’ (sung in Spanish) and other evergreens. Starting off in a sombre mood when Slava attempts to hang himself with a rope that never seems to end before a second clown appears on stage to counterbalance the mood. Soon the entire menagerie of clowns, with their peculiar penguin-shaped hats and green coats (sans Slava) appears one after another to join in the parade.

In between, one clown pulls a chain of miniature houses cosily lit while Slava flirts with a hat and coat stand over which he drapes a coat and lady's hat… only to pack his suitcase and ride away on an imaginary train. We have a ‘ship of fools’ and a shark who attacks, we have illuminated balloons and cob-web like sheets which descends over the audiences, we have plain silly capers such as water-squirting, a phone conversation between Slava and Assissiai and slow-motion ball games. Above all though, there are tons of ‘snowflakes’ descending upon the stage and into the auditorium – white paper strips blasted out via a wind-machine. It is a spectacle that delights the audience (but most likely not the cleaners) and the blizzard-climax at the end of the show (to the sound of Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’) is a sight not easily forgotten! As an added bonus, seven gigantic balloons and also small balloons in all colours of the rainbow are released into the auditorium and at last night’s opening this was something which particularly thrilled the young viewers among the audience… which is just as well seeing how some of Slava’s Gogol-esque inspired surreal humour is perhaps too complex for kids to fully embrace.

Slava’s Snow Show runs at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre until Nov. 5th before it moves on to the King’s Theatre in Glasgow.

(Photo by V. Mishukov)