When I had the pleasure of stumbling across Scotch & Soda on London’s Southbank last weekend I couldn’t not tell the world. Part of the fourth season of the London Wonderground Festival, the event running from 7th May – 27th September Scotch & Soda promised ‘a cocktail of physical feats and jazz beats’ and didn’t disappoint.
Performed in a traditional travelling big top of red and gold, a few rows of circle seating curved the tiny stage. It’s easy to forget you’re in central London, instead you’re swallowed by the 1920s. You’re daring, you’re brave and you’re all friends here. Forming an intimate audience you’re thrown into the peril of the action, though can do nothing but spectate and marvel, despite instinctively holding out your arms to catch the gravity defying bodies, just in case.
Pre-show, boasting jazz filled the tent while the acrobats and band casually played cards and shared a few drinks. Adorned in off-white shirts and baggy pants, the girls sported twisted up dos, the boys bared their impressive abs. Pulsing energy, the Crusty Suitcase Band got the motion into full swing. Horns, drums and sax collided into a fusion of jazz and blues. Their cocktail spiked with a drop of funk and spiced with a dash of cheeky originality. Triumphant and giddy, the band underscored rip roaring gymnasts with nothing but passion.
Small but tightly knit, the Scotch & Soda team performed knuckle biting acrobatics with effortless grace, doing more with a shabby washing line, wooden boxes and wine bottle than you could imagine. Based on a typical Victorian circus cast, characters were reinvented – chic and sexy. Swoony heartthrobs of clowns performed laugh out loud sequences despite not speaking a word. And, there were no ghostbuster pyjamas in sight.
Working harmoniously in strength, we were treated to an eccentric, fast paced spectacle of tantalising trapeze, skilful somersaults, boisterous biking and jubilant jumps. Chinese poles were mounted, dresses changed colour with a drop of a curtain and legs grasped rope for life. From slapstick violence to jaw dropping stunts, it became impossible to look away, particularly when one bearded misfit bared all, an exhibitionist wearing clogs.
Everything was high, fast, racy and laughed in the face of danger.
If you weren’t toe tapping and clapping along to the Crusty Suitcase Band’s infectious groove, or laughing in delight at the mime style art of story telling, you were almost certainly holding your breath at the edge of your seat. You’ll leave with your heart in your mouth and consciously aware of how easily you’d bruise if you were to do even a fraction of what you just saw.
by Tanyel Gumushan