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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Splish Splash!

Last night I ventured to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith to see 'Soap - The Show'. We were warned that during the performance we may get wet but aside from that information I had no idea what to expect. We opted to sit a few rows back ( I was wearing my favourite PPQ silk shirt - and was not keen on getting it soaked!)

The show was half cabaret, half circus, but on a smaller more eccentric scale than most, with the theme of bathtubs and water joining all the acts and ideas together. The style of production felt similar to cirque du soleil, but primarily advertises itself as a Cabaret show. The superb direction came from Markus Pabst, who directed La Clique, a similar extravaganza that won critical acclaim at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2006. The cast of eight took it in turns to display their talents, sometimes working together, sometimes as soloists.

Patricia Holtzmann took centre stage for regular musical interludes, adapting some of the great classics (Mozart, Handel and even Rimsky-Korsakov) to the words of Bobby Darin's 'Splish Splash' - a song that cropped up throughout the show. I found some of her singing slightly unnerving and occasionally flat, possibly because her talent seemed unimpressive next to the acrobatics. There were six acrobatic acts - each performer has a different skill, the most exciting performances for me came from Francois Gravel with Dance Trapeze and Michael Lanphear with Straps. Both men drew audible gasps from the audience as they swung and threw themselves across the stage, often performing in water, always acting around the white bathtubs positioned on the stage. The theatre space is pretty snug at Riverside, and unfortunately I was sitting next to a very enthusiastic clapper, who felt the need to clap (very loudly), every 5-10 seconds, it was mildly distracting.

Nata Galkina (an antipode - foot juggler) also gave an awe-inspiring performance. Her astonishing talent is a rare art, and was definitely something I had never seen before. Her legs emerged from a bathtub, but her body was entirely hidden, and as she juggled and balanced more and more objects the experience became increasingly surreal. Like any circus, there was, of course the comedy factor. Marie-Andree Lemaire was a lovable clown figure. Usually I find the clowns quite irritating but I allowed myself to enjoy some of Lemaire's material.

Much of 'Soap' was non-sensical, but in the best way. It was quite unlike anything I have ever encountered before and was a unique and exciting production. The show caters for all ages and all interests. It is on until April 25th, tickets £20/£25.


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