Sipping half a pint of Pimms, GTW was seated in London Wonderground’s spectacular Spiegeltent (aka ‘Mirror Tent’) for a performance of Scotch & Soda on June 3, 2015. Scotch & Soda slots perfectly into the bohemian vibe of the venue, which has been suitably paired with London’s Udderbelly Festival. Scotch & Soda headlines London Wonderground’s fourth season at the Southbank Centre for a strictly limited time. London Wonderground boasts a typically rustic vibe, seeing carnival rides creatively transformed into seats, with visitors welcomed to the show via an old-style ticket booth. London Wonderground is renowned for hosting innovative circus and cabaret acts from around the world. Scotch & Soda in particular consists of a troupe of athletic acrobats from Australia, performing under the pseudonym of Company 2 and driven under the direction of Chelsea McGuffin and David Carberry. Scotch & Soda emits a particular quirky vibe and certainly brings an element of recklessness and eccentricity to the stage. This isn’t the company’s first time performing at such a venue, with previous appearances including Cantina in 2012. Scotch & Soda features a pretty basic structure for such an advanced show, reminiscent of the recently viewed Kooza at the Royal Albert Hall. I would say Scotch & Soda would be worthy of such a venue, yet it somewhat lacked a consistently captivating storyline, instead following a sketch-by-sketch mentality. Kooza also appeared a tad more tasteful. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the show, which opened at The Southbank Centre on May 14, 2015.
Scotch & Soda emits a somewhat grubby feel, seeing a handful of Company 2 acrobats perform alongside the jazzinspired Crusty Suitcase Band. The Crusty Suitcase Band are led by musician Ben Walsh, who is introduced to the stage pushing an old dustbin cart that mirrored as a drum kit. Music is quite clearly the ‘lifeblood’ of Scotch & Soda, which features no dialogue and therefore relies on rhythmic tones to tell the story. Worn costumes from a bygone era complete the concoction, with a spectrum of beiges, browns and blues perfectly complimenting the edgy events unfolding on stage. Memorable moments include Chelsea McGuffin’s gypsy-styled act featuring her two attentive birds, Mozes and his crazy antics as The Bush Stranger with his massive wooden clogs and Matthew Ottingnon’s solo saxophone piece, which saw newcomer Kate Munz compliment with an aerial acrobatics routine. Scotch & Soda is a relatively short production - timed at around 70 minutes - and features an age restriction for ages 12 and above. Scotch & Soda is performed daily (except Mondays) at 1930hrs, with Saturday matinees at 1600hrs. Booths can be booked for parties of up to 10 people at a set price. London Wonderground boasts free entry for individuals and touring groups, including free performances over some weekends at the Barnum & Bailey Bandstand. Udderbelly Festival is held annually from April to July, with this year’s London Wonderground season hosted from May to September 2015. For more information visit londonwonderground. co.uk or southbankcentre.co.uk/ londonwonderground