In good circus company

Scotch & Soda (Company 2)

Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space

November 18 -28

Circus continues to represent an almost unstoppable trend, making it a challenge for productions to keep audiences intrigued and interested. Thankfully, shows like Company 2’s “Scotch & Soda” highlight the genre as more vibrant performance platform than fad amongst the traditionally conservative theatre scene.

It is clear from early in the show why the work was such a hit at last year’s Brisbane Festival, thanks to its delicious blend of vaudeville charm and physical feats. The music, which comes courtesy of Sydney’s The Crusty Suitcase Band, creates a fun feel to compliment the vintage sideshow-style staging (think travelling gypsies in a rowdy whiskey joint).

From the company of carnival men (and a couple of women) come all range of performance techniques, from the fearless to the dainty. Tricks include the usual fare, all doing justice to the resulting agape audience mouths, however, it is when movement is taken from the ground to the air, that collective gasps and looks away (#inagoodway) abound, particularly in response to the aerial work of acrobat Mozes. Director Chelsea McGuffin is also particularly impressive, especially when walking across a path of different sized bottles. From skating on clogs to bike trickery to the blast of a mini drum set’s beat, “Scotch & Soda” is ever the eclectic mix of entertainment. And even when a dog appears as part of the act, in typical Company 2 style it never verges of gimmickry.

Scotch and Soda

Sometimes the simplest of things can be funny, like a performer meandering about pre-show randomly calling out for Mary before some dialogue begins with the question in everyone’s mind…. “who’s Mary?” And sometimes the simplest of circus moves can be the most powerful like balancing atop a trapeze without using hands. And, with perfect balance of both of these aspects “Scotch & Soda” is a sure-fire hit.

The acrobats of the Company 2 ensemble are cohesive not only in their precision timing and showcase of circus skill strength, but in their energy and sense of humour. Indeed, the ragtime band of cheeky ragamuffins are at once both highly-skilled and expressive to always engage the audience, whether it be to spontaneous applauses or intense, focussed silence.

“Scotch & Soda” is a quirky show (at one point we see a man marrying a double bass) but it is a glorious type of quirk, complete even with nudity and jaw dropping physical feats to toe-tapping jazz beats. Like its high-ball cocktail namesake, its perfection comes from the combination of its ingredients. And with its mix of simple storytelling and acoustic instrumentation, Company 2’s “Scotch & Soda” is vibrant with passion, making it accessible beyond traditional circus expectations.

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