Soap is at Riverside Studios until 25 April
Six baths on stage (and a seventh in the ceiling) provide the props required for this slick performance. We don’t want to give too much away, but the strength, skill and athleticism of these eight international performers is breathtaking. Is it dance, acrobatics, variety, or comedy? Well, it’s a bit of all four. Perhaps we would be more inventive with our bathtimes if we had stomach muscles like these. One tiny slip by the bendy Fernando Dudka on the side of a soaking bath suddenly showed the risks these guys were taking, and made us hold our breath even more.
The bathtime theme is nicely held together by the glamorous Lithuanian soprano Lina Navakaite, who sings Splish Splash in a perfectly placed (and surprisingly funny) string of opera parodies, from Mozart to Stockhausen.
But far from being a one-dimensional piece, Soap isn’t afraid to get out of the bath and show off some less sodden skills. Nata Galkina has some of the most talented, expressive toes we’ve ever seen, juggling hoops and tossing an oversized loofah around like it was child’s play. More child’s play comes from Marie-Andrée Lemaire as a kooky, naive clown, all big wellies and belly-laugh-inducing facial expressions, ready to fall in love with everything, including, at one point, a bath-bound hand.
The range of music, from Gnarls Barkley to Tchaikovsky’s Dance Of The Cygnets from Swan Lake, to something that sounded very like londonist faves Rage Against the Machine (?) to Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, goes some way to illuminate the variety of talented acts you see on stage. Ever seen a man strip while juggling? Or two feet fall in love and make babies? You can here.
It’s possible that the show, which was shorter when it first appeared in Berlin, feels slightly stretched in the second half (much like the muscles on stage!); or maybe aerial hoop artist Masha Terentieva was just a little too sulky/pouty for our tastes, but mainly, the different acts worked well together.
Overall, Soap is a nicely paced mix of whimsical, sensual, comical variety, and is sure to put a smile on your face: there’s nothing too subversive and naughty; just good, clean, inventive fun.
Soap is at Riverside Studios until 25 April. Tickets from £17.50. Call the box office on 020 8237 1111, or visit www.riversidestudios.co.uk for more information.