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A silly circus show that gets you wet
Ah, the circus. There’s nothing like watching a troupe of ridiculously buff, ridiculously flexible superhumans gyrate and hurl themselves around to make you feel quite so depressingly unfit. And, sadly, that’s the biggest takeaway from Base Berlin’s long-lasting, globetrotting show ‘Soap’, the headline circus act at the Southbank’s Underbelly Festival.
It’s sporadically entertaining and sporadically impressive, but the only thing directors Markus Pabst and Maximilian Rambaek really make you think is, ‘Damn, I should really go for a run or something.’ (Unless you’re in the front row, in which case you’ll be thinking ‘Damn, can someone get me a towel?’)
It’s basically a series of acts – some silly, some serious – all wrapped up in a loosely-fitting bathroom theme. So we get Adam Endris juggling bouncy balls as he takes all his clothes off. We get Anton Belyakov performing acrobatics in a full bathtub, water cascading into the audience. And we get Daniel Stern soaring above the audience, ‘Greatest Showman’-style.
Don’t get me wrong, some of it is really cool. When Vanessa Alvarez lies on her back and plate-spins four towels (two on her hands, two on her feet), for example. Or when Moritz Haase does the trapeze in a rain shower.
Some of it, though, is a wee bit naff. A three-guy naked towel-dance is neither slick nor sophisticated. Random reworkings of classical operas (Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Splasherazade’, Handel’s ‘Splashiah’), courtesy of Jennifer Lindshield, feel shoehorned in and superfluous. Marie-Andrée Lemaire, our pixie-ish mime host for the evening, has little else to do but admire the men’s torsos.
The best circus shows are either jaw-droppingly, hair-raisingly, shit-your-pants daring or so completely wrapped up in a concept/storyline they become something else entirely. ‘Soap’ is neither of these things. It desperately wants to be soapy and sexy, but it’s not. It’s just a silly circus show that gets you soggy.
BY: FERGUS MORGAN