REVIEW: SOHO (Peacock Theatre) ★★★★★

This is the world premiere of Soho, a mixture of music, dance and athletic stunts. The members of the cast are each specialists in certain, circus style acrobatics. Think urban Cirque du Soleil without anything cheesy. This is not a circus, the cast are far too cool for that. This is more a modern ballet with added exciting dynamics.

The story is in two acts. A young, innocent, man turns up in London’s wicked Soho, riding on the crowded noisy underground. During the daylight hours he visits the ordinary, everyday places such as the Soho Streets, Soho Square and the local Gym. Then, in the evening, he visits the nightlife of Soho including Madam Jojo’s and the Colony Club. At each location he is surrounded by local people, be they ladies of the night, market workers or out of towners. The dancing features 12 world-class performers who dance, swing, leap and land, but always with style, elegance and panache.

The performers each have a number of esoteric skill sets such as Chinese Poll, Aerial Straps, Martial Artist and Hand to Hand. They come from various places including Canada, France, Italy and the U.K., but they all have one thing in common, great skill and a lot of courage. Imagine the Chinese Pole expert, Alessio Motta. He shins up a circular pole around 50mm diameter until he is about twenty meters above the stage. If he falls there is nothing to soften the blow and no safety line. He is at first still, holding on to the poll and facing it, hugging it, building up tension. Suddenly, he carries out a forward 360 degree somersault in mid air, before re-catching the pole just before he falls to certain injury. It seems to defy the laws of dynamics. Then how does Canadian artist Leah Wolff roll around the stage on a giant hoop and not crush her fingers? Another, if less dramatic, mystery.

Despite all the headline grabbing, death defying, stunts, you actually feel as though you are getting to know and love each individual. Their standing ovation at the end was heartfelt. The music during the show Went from Daft Punk to Donavan, David Bowie to Mozart and finally a wonderful dance routine to Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, in which he perfectly sums up the Soho ethos:

If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like,
Or me undressed you like,
Why, nobody will oppose.

Do catch this show before it’s final performance on 20 May 2017, it is tremendous.

Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: Stufish