ONE of the world's most enchanting shows is back in South London for a record fourth consecutive year this Christmas.
The award-winning Slava's Snowshow arrives at the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre this weekend for an extended run.
Created by Russian artist Slava Polunin, artistic director of the St Petersburg Circus, it is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has so far been seen by more than five million people worldwide.
Its UK producer, Matthew Gale says its appeal is down to its simplicity and beauty but admits it is difficult to describe.
"It's a beautiful show to watch," he says. "But it's difficult to explain what it is! It's physical theatre and completely non verbal. It's very clever, funny, full of visual delights and wonderful music but it's also very subtle.
"The clowns do some amazing and extraordinary physical tricks which are breathtaking to watch - although sometimes you wonder how they are physically possible!
"Each also has their own distinct personality and character on the stage and some are quite anarchic, some are quite cute, but they are all very silly and funny," he adds.
"Their facial expressions are fabulous - when one of them raises an eyebrow the audience erupts with laughter.
"It doesn't rely on a narrative per se but there are a series of vignettes and stories within it which relate back to peoples' childhoods so it touches the audience emotionally.
"It makes people feel like a child again. It's full of wonderment, positivity, ignites your curiosity and that's the joy of it."
Influenced by artists such as Chaplin, Marcel Marceau and Engibarov, Slava, and his company of clowns have created an imersive piece of theatre designed to appeal to anyone over the age of six.
Together they use a combination of theatrical clowning and visual spectacle to create a dream-like world where images melt into one another, a cobweb envelops the audience and one tiny piece of paper starts a blizzard of snow.
Throughout the show the clowns, who come from all over the world, interact with each other and the audience, sometimes going into the crowd to play with them or do a stunt.
It builds to a magical finale where the audience gets to play with giant balloons in the midst of a snowstorm.
"It's amazing to see everyone totally connect with the performers and get so involved in the show," says Matthew.
"It's a real visual treat from start to finish and the snow storm at the end is the most beautiful theatrical effect I have ever seen. It's pretty special.
"I've seen eight year olds skipping out of the show with their grandparents who are also beaming and skipping!
"It is fantastic to see people really come alive when they see it - it has a real energy, power, excitement and brilliance to it as well as a touch of magic.
"There are so many horrible and terrible things going on in the world at the moment sometimes you forget human beings are extraordinary and can do amazing things.
"So to see people being silly for the sake of it is joyous and this show manages to transport you to a different place which will leave you feeling elated and reflective - you will see the world in a different way.
"It's pure magic and perfect for Christmas."
Slava's Snowshow is on at the Royal Festival Hall until Monday, January 5. Tickets cost from £20 Visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk or call the box office on 020 7960 4200.