‘Scotch and Soda’ at London Wonderground
It seemed rather fitting that on the day that the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe programme was launched, I toddled off to see a show at the London Wonderground. Situated on the Southbank during the Summer, the London Wonderground and it’s sister, the Underbelly offers Londoners a sneaky peek into the Edfringe spirit, offering an eclectic programme of everything from circus to comedy via a healthy dose of cabaret on the way. The gardens too allow one to steal inside, grab a drink and perch at the rickety picnic benches or nestle down in a dodgem card to enjoy. To every detail it’s like being in Edinburgh, right down to the flyerers and plastic pint glasses- you”d think it was August in Scotland’s capital, except for the London Eye winking at you from overhead.
I teamed up with a gaggle of the LDNTheatreBloggers to catch the press night of one of the headline shows at this year’s Wonderground, Scotch and Soda. A hybrid of circus and jazz, it promised to provide “a cocktail of physical feats and jazz beats performed by daredevil acrobats and mesmerizing musicians…a guaranteed whisky soaked evening of breathtaking feats, blinding charm and beatnik soul.”
That’s fighting talk if ever I heard it.
Come Thursday and London was GLEAMING in the sunshine. The Southbank was rammed as people took advantage of the glorious weather and wiggled their toes in the ‘beach’ installation in front of the skate park, and the shrieks of kids could be heard as they dove through the fountains next to the Southbank Centre (one of my favourite things about a London summer). I found Frankie and we immediately bopped to the bar at the Underbelly to grab a drink to cool the hell down.
Once we’d located the others, we took a saunter down the red carpet (LOL WHO ARE WE) stopping to take the obligatory cringey selfies on the way. (I’m not sure we should have bothered. We all look waaaay better than THAT in real life.)
The show itself is a collaboration between two Aussie companies, Company 2 who are all phenomenal acrobats and The Crusty Suitcase Band, who have some of the most in demand jazzers down under in their line-up. The result? SPELLBINDING.
Throughout the show the performers play a range of characters inspired by real people from Australian outback history. They are fiery, funny and at times, feral. The stunts are just breathtaking. No spangly props or magnificent sets here, the supremely gifted members of Company 2 manage to make jaws drop and sharp intakes of breath echo around the Speigeltent (the thoroughly beautiful and atmospheric main venue of the Wonderground) with only a rope, a trapeze, a pole, a rickety see-saw, a rusty bike and a host of broken boxes and shabby suitcases.
The band, under the watchful eye of musical director Ben Walsh are just as brilliant. Providing an erratic, guttural and spirited soundtrack to match and enhance each performance piece, their energy leaks out of their instruments and into the crowd, whipping everyone up into a stomping frenzy. Big, dirty brass, throbbing double bass and drum solos that sound like a filthy spanking during a particularly experimental sex session. YEP SIGN ME UP FOR MORE OF THAT.
Take a sneaky peek at the show!
After the show, we spilled back out into the Wonderground for the After Partayyyy to find with UTTER DELIGHT it was still light! The beauty of the shows at the Wonderground/Underbelly is that they’re all round about Edinburgh length- an hour. 90 mins max. SHORT, SHARP AND SEXY. That’s how I like my shows. (And my men, but that’s another story.) We sipped (guzzled) glasses of Pimms and snacked on the delicious treats that were being flouted our way- cheesey sourdough pizza, cream cheese and beef tomato bagels, quails eggs and potato hash, falafel bites on rye bread YEAH I MEAN IT WAS ALL VERY DELICIOUS.
Scotch and Soda is running at the London Wonderground until the 2nd August and I HIGHLY recommend it. The perfect Friday show to get all gee-ed up for a cracking weekend. Toe-tapping, heart-racing and with a gorgeous garden to play and get silly in beforehand and afterwards. IDEAL.
I was a guest of the London Wonderground, but as alllllllllways I wouldn’t have written about it if I didn’t have a BLOODY GREAT night. Thank you Official Theatre for organising the tickets.