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Theatre review: Scotch & Soda at London Wonderground

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Bearing stale clothing, flicked-up moustaches and grand instruments, The Crusty Suitcase Band look like they have just fell off a wagon in rural England around a century ago, as they stand tall on the wooden centerpiece of a stage.

The band begin belting out dazzling jazz music as the audience take to their seats in the intimate venue of the Paradiso Spiegeltent. 

Scotch & Soda

When the Acrobats of Company 2 begin to perform for the 70-minute show; they fly through the air, walk on champagne bottles, dangle upside down off a trapeze, balance on various objects and ride bikes… from the wrong side of the handlebars and so much more.

All the while the band continue to play, which wonderfully paces each set throughout the show. Your heart pounds, you hold your breath, you try to comprehend how on earth human beings can even perform such trickeries, and this is what makes the show so thrilling.

The whole cast made reference to onlookers by giving mischievous winks, charming smiles and encouraged participation by clapping their hands before performing dangerous moves. Different scenes were created throughout the show, from a group of people gambling, to a conflict played out by acrobatics and also giving one of the dirty-looking band members a good scrub! Each scene is pinoneered to tell a different story, although I wasn’t to keen on the set that involved two little birds as this slowed the pace of the show down, but maybe that was intentional.

Circus artist Mozes executed comical, cheek-reddening gags by appearing naked from time to time but performed a marvelously brave and artistic solo on the trapeze, swinging around it and hanging mid-air by the back of his neck, in nothing but a pair of old pants!
 
The show consists of two exceptionally talented groups, one offering a perfect musical assemble, led by Ben Walsh, the other a mesmerizing circus act directed by Chelsea McGuffin and David Carberry.

The music animates performances of the acrobats as much as the acrobats illustrate the band, synthetically creating a masterpiece and the perfect concoction for a breathtaking, refined cabaret show.

The show isn’t for the faint-hearted nor young children, but is great display of talent and I would love to watch it all over again.

Scotch and Soda is at London’s Wonderground at Southbank Centre until 2nd August 2015. Presented by Underbelly Productions and Company 2. 

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