In its second Brisbane Festival run, Soap does not fail to live up to the hype with its unique blend of circus, cabaret and opera filling the Courier-Mail Piazza stage.
Soap is one of those “a little bit of everything shows”, and harks back to the touring production tradition where everyone’s talents are used and everyone pitches in. The performers are all multi-skilled, meaning that within the cast of eight there is opportunity for opera, clowning, juggling, acrobatics, dance and theatre which makes for no dull moments on stage. There are some interesting combinations of acts in Soap, opera teamed with juggling, clowning with trapeze and of course contemporary dance, acrobatics and drama all worked within bathtubs, and this sets it apart from other performances of its ilk. The strength of this show is found within the cohesiveness of the ensemble, who work together as a team to not only perform the show but help to crew with on stage set and prop changes made entertaining by the cheeky-grinned performers.
Soap nails the family show format, with enough steamy six packs, heartfelt arias, rock’n’roll and comedy to entertain every age group. Swept along in the fun and folly, audiences clap, cheer, gasp and encourage, marvelling at the strength, flexibility and skill on stage. The audience is so on-side, that even when small mistakes are made, which are inevitable in this kind of live performance (and really what makes it so fun), it almost excites them even more and instead of a hushed and awkward pause, a dropped ball or a missed step incites louder cheers, the gusto of which prompts the performer to dazzle on their second attempt.
There are elements of the show which lack some polish. The cast at times seem quite casual in their efforts, which breaks the illusion that this show is a special event put on for the audience of the night, and reminds those watching that while it is an awesome spectacle, it is also a job for the performers and perhaps a slightly tired one at that (or perhaps the cast were just physically slightly tired on the night). Whatever the reason, a little bit of showmanship and effort to be present on stage can go a long way towards making a good show great.
A special mention must be given to the clown of the piece, who immediately delights the audience and carries them through Soap with her narrative. The show is tied together quite loosely with its bathtub theme, and this character provides the cohesiveness it needs. The clown is the portal through which the audience enters into Soap’s world of wonder and delight, her own enthusiasm and rapture infectious, and the performer in this rendition of the show nails the role.
Soap is an all-round entertaining show, one of those pieces which reminds a viewer just how marvellous, breathtaking and talented humans can be. It brings people together and leaves them buzzing, and it really is no wonder that this generator of positivity, fun and awe has been demanded a return season by Brisbane audiences.
Brisbane Festival presents
Venue: South Bank | The Courier-Mail Piazza, South Brisbane QLD
Dates: 10 – 21 Sept, 2014
Tickets: $30 – $40