REVIEW: SOAP (Underbelly festival) ★★★

Sudsy puns abound in the previous round of reviews for SOAP – a bathtub-based cabaret show taking place as part of the Southbank’s Underbelly festival. Apparently it’s already ‘made a splash’ internationally, and it is brought to the capital in its current guise by the German ensemble Base Berlin.

The cast is prodigiously talented – I’m still trying to work out the physics involved in the towel spinning routine – but the show takes a while to work the crowd into a lather. There’s barely any water until the halfway mark, and the eventual drenching of the front rows feels like a gimmick too far, too late.

Fine individual performances aside, there’s not a great deal knitting the whole thing together apart from the valiant efforts of the wonderful Marie-Andrée Lemaire – a contemporary clown who shines throughout. An operatic version of ‘splish splash, I was taking a bath’ was arguably the opportunity to explain the bathtub obsession, but alas, the show just skips to the next skit featuring a rubber duck.

You leave with the impression that SOAP is largely an excuse to fit standard circus performance into a suitably profitable package for a summer at the Spiegeltent – and after all, there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re in the market for a night of good clean fun. Just don’t expect to be too wowed by the concept.

Reviewed by April Delaney


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