In a world famous Fringe Festival sometimes it is difficult to navigate from the terrible to the terrific. In this case however no such problem exists. Scotch and Soda is a carefully crafted piece of mastery. For just over 1 hour and 15 minutes the cast mix a vaudevillian tapestry of tumbles, tricks into a time capsule of entertainment from the early 1900’s.
Co-Directors Chelsea McGuffin and David Carberry have designed and produced a show that enables the audience to be immersed in a surreal world of absolute wonderment. Hardly a word said, the cast are able to converse with their audience at a virtually subconscious level. They act like a modern silent movie cast always expressive in every exaggerated but calculated move.
To properly review a show so complex as this I am tempted to dissect the pure elements that form the elaborate yet simple structure of Scotch and Soda.
Firstly, The Crusty Suitcase Band, a group of some of the finest musicians in the country bring together the fabric of what makes the elaborate tricks and tumbles work. This group is not just a band, they are an integral part of the show.
Soaring, syncopated, strength and mood driving, they weave their way through the full show hardly stopping for a breath between the never ending movement of the cast. A completely original score which drifts between jazz, funk, blues and theatre style music perfectly compliments and enhances every element of the performance.
From the off stage entry of percussionist Ben Walsh and his never ending array of drumming on a trolley based kit, plastic bag and tables to the sometimes naked bass player and brilliant on the money horn section of valve trombone, Baritone Saxaphone, Bass Clarinet, Crusty Suitcase are the essence of why the audience get it and the horn section provides the real dynamics that allow the performers to shine.
OK, now to the show. The Bush Stranger (Mozes) who calls out to Margaret (who is she) on a number of occasions could have been mistaken for a Mad Max character or as the new villain in a Wolf Creek movie. Mozes commences on clogs, then roller skates and most notably in a death defying trapeze act which was compelling to watch but terrified the crowd as there was no net.
McGuffin as Director is no slouch, she walks across a sea of bottles, dances, hangs Mozes from her head on the trapeze and then finds time to be a budgie whisperer in a pop up aviary. The resident strongman who often forms the foundation of endless pillars of people had a cheeky (Mum look I did it) grin for the audience after each trick as did most of the cast. It was almost as if they just felt lucky not to fly into the audience or land on their heads.
David Carberry whilst directing roams the stage like a Formula One driver. From the opening scenes on his bicycle to the triple bike tower, he somehow navigates around the stage making it look almost like a Pixar animation. His degree of control and strength are unparalleled and only outdone by his choreographed dance with McGuffin.
This cast will not disappoint any audience with so many highlights of balance, strength and comedy. I could mention so many tricks and tumbles but that would give it away and you actually need to see it. The Aurora Spielgeltent in the round is a great venue to see Scotch and Soda and viewing is fantastic in any seat.
I have seen so many shows and whilst looking forward to seeing what else the Fringe 2015 has to offer, this is my number one pick. If you do nothing else, book a ticket now. As the word gets around, Scotch and Soda will quickly sell out. This all Australian show is off to London soon for what could be or should be a lengthy tour.
For more information, visit: www.company2.com.au for details.
Image: Scotch and Soda – photo by Sean Young (supplied)