Three years after launching with their immediately identifiable brand of well-financed, 12a-rated, corporately-sponsored debauchery aimed squarely at a target market of well-heeled financiers from Clapham and people who consider reading 50 Shades of Grey on the bus the height of risqué behaviour, London Wonderground has begun to feel as much a Thames-side institution as the statue people who so bafflingly thrill tourists with the amazing ability to stand still.
Yet until now Civilian Theatre has never made the trip across the river to experience the famous Spiegeltent and its carnival of delights and vigilant readers may have noticed the faint whiff of cynicism rising from the above paragraph. I should make clear this is in no way is aimed at the performers – Scotch & Soda, or any of those taking part this summer. Having seen some of the acts perform elsewhere, the talent is not to be doubted.
No, my main issue with the London Wonderground experience is struggling to avoid the chuckling charlies braying their stock portfolios at one another as they think nothing of throwing down another £7 on a glass of Pimms, or forking out £10 for a souvenir programme (7 pages of high gloss photos). This is not a show for those looking to manage their budgets. A family of four would be hard pressed to be spending less than £120 for a show that lasts 70 minutes (and that assumes calls for ice creams, cokes or glasses of wine are resisted).
All that said, Scotch & Soda is a highly entertaining show. The Australian troupe is a mixture of skilled circus performers and fantastically enjoyable horn and drum infused jazz. Their style is perhaps inspired by the idea of early 20th century touring circuses – a hipster meets hillbilly confection where moustaches meet muscles, where a jug-band meets a classically trained double-bassist.
Watch a little video courtesy of our friends at Official Theatre