Scotch and Soda at London Wonderground

‘Featuring brief moments of full frontal male nudity’, said the warning. Sold. But then combined with the impressive roster of company members including Wonderground stalwarts Limbo, La Clique and Cantina, the prospect of Australia’s Company 2’s new production, Scotch and Soda was too tempting to miss.

For anyone unfamiliar with this particular breed of circus, cast aside thoughts of unitards, tidy gymnast bows and gracious applause. Replace it with bearded rapscallions and their corseted mistresses running amok to the sounds of tin-pan percussion and Balkan beats to a nigh on hysterical crowd. With some penises thrown in for good measure. And now imagine all that exacerbated into one packed 70minute circus-cabaret extravaganza, in residence on the South Bank’s Spiegel tent this summer.

Introduced by the Crusty Suitcase Band, who stick around on stage throughout, the vibe is grungy and greasy and with just the right amount of sleaze. Our new high flying friends for evening are no better, with bedraggled beards and wry smiles, a jaunty gaint and a lack of trouser, as they transform the centre stage into a bohemian haven of mischief atop battered suitcases and brass, crates and see-saws and even an aviary.

One person rides a bike. Two. And then three. As the bike wobbles and whirls around the stage at increasing speed, we wait with heart firmly in mouth… (Particularly if you’re in the ringside seats). But the fall never comes. The skill in these five performers is astounding, their rag-tag demeanour played with drunken prowess. The camaraderie amongst the performers is so uplifting that by the end, I was more than ready to grab my own battered suitcase and run away to their circus den.

With an infectiously grimy soundtrack composed by Ben Walsh, Scotch and Soda is a wild ride into the boho cabaret. Company 2 ringleader, and expert champagne tight-roper and bird tamer, Chelsea McGriffin leads the way with her playful yet deviant tricks and tumbles. The wonderfully feral aerialist Mozes, takes one for the team (several times) celebrating his apparent inability to retain his trousers. Not that we’re complaining. This wild creature seamlessly switches from slapstick respite to headline act, the lascivious poster child of their gang.

Deranged and downright hazardous – take their dirty little hands and grab yourself a Scotch and Soda…

Scotch and Soda continues until 2 August at:
London Wonderground
South Bank

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