I’ve seen plenty of plays, musicals, ballet and even opera in my time, but one kind of performance I’ve seen very little of is circus. I was excited, therefore, to have the chance to attend the press night of Scotch and Soda at the London Wonderground’s Spiegeltent along with other London theatre bloggers, thanks to OfficialTheatre.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show at all, but I was mesmerised. A unique mix of circus and jazz, it features the Crusty Suitcase Band (led by Ben Walsh) performing a soundtrack to Company 2’s astounding acrobatic feats. The whole thing has the atmosphere of a speakeasy, with performers swigging from whisky bottles and relaxing with card tricks before performing some incredibly impressive stunts. Instead of being relegated to the background, the musicians play an important part in the show as a whole, taking centre stage at various moments and showcasing something unique in the worlds of circus and jazz.
In a series of sketches, the performers amazed the audience over and over again: climbing on top of one another on a moving bike; clambering to the top of a pile of wobbly boxes; shimmying up a pole held by a member of the troupe; launching each other from a seesaw before somersaulting onto a mattress. I was on tenterhooks throughout, holding my breath as they managed tricks that really should have been impossible with humour and flair.
Each of the characters had a distinct personality, and the circulation of “Wanted” posters before the show started only emphasised this. One of my favourites was the slightly unhinged Bush Stranger (Mozes), whose ability to swing from a trapeze holding on by only his neck or ankles was nothing short of incredible. I also loved Lady’s (Chelsea McGuffin) appearance with two birds (live ones, not models as I had thought at first), providing a calmer moment in amongst the stunning acrobatics. The “brothers”, Daevoud and Kid Lightning, worked really well together and their pole trick was a highlight.
Overall, I loved this unique and dynamic show. It runs until 2 August so there’s plenty of time to catch it on the South Bank. In the meantime, check out this OfficialTheatre interview with Chelsea McGuffin.