REVIEW: Soap the Show

Soap the Show
Someone dropped the soap...

Wet but definitely not Wild [by Sharu Delilkan]

Soap the Show
Someone dropped the soap...

Anticipation is the only way to describe the atmosphere on opening night – anticipation for whether cabaret could translate to a big venue like The Civic, without losing the naughtiness and immediacy that’s the essence of cabaret.

The crowd was willing and excited about the sexy and sensual show that the programme promised – but the million dollar question is ‘Did Soap – The Show deliver?’.

Yes and no.  Accolades need to go to the comedy aspect of the show, led by Canadian Marie-Andrée Lemaire, as well as the athleticism of hand-balancing performer Alessandro di Sazio.

There are elements of the show that are definitely worthy of praise, with Patricia Holtzmann’s singing being one of the highlights and added bonuses of the evening.  Her role of opera diva, as pointed out in the programme, was “virtually tailor-made for her”.

Another notable performance was by juggler Adem Endris.  His routine, incorporating stripping, was suitably amusing.  But his serious juggling act, where he managed to keep 7 balls in the air, was “totally crazy” [translation – amazing] to quote my husband Tim, an amateur juggler himself.

Foot juggler Ludmila Nikolaeva, from Russia, was definitely a crowd favourite with her circus performance – which made even more sense when I found out that she has done circus studies in Moscow and performed for four years in the Great Moscow State Circus.

But the aerial work was not quite up to the mark, based on what New Zealand has seen in the past.  To be honest Eve Gordon’s aerial work at The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) earlier this year in Oh Baby was miles ahead, not to mention the numerous Cirque du Soleil shows that have graced us with their presence over the years.

Humour was the saviour at the end of the day, and the opening night crowd lapped it up.

I was excited to read that one of co-directors was Markus Pabst, responsible for the dramatic La Clique previously seen at Auckland Festival’s Spiegeltent in Britomart, was part of the Circle of Eleven team but I wasn’t surprised.  However, it also made me wonder what possessed him to change tact so dramatically, to exclude the sexy element which brought the house down?

Another missed opportunity was when the ensemble cast came on stage at the end of the first half equipped with mops to sop up the waterlocked stage.  I expected something a bit more rhythmic à la STOMP but instead they just did a few twirls.

Individually, most of the acts were excellent but the combination needed more sexiness and sleaze to be billed a cabaret.  Placing six bathtubs in the middle of a stage was just not sufficient to sustain my attention.  In fact I found my thoughts drifting during the second half, when there didn’t seem to be much happening.  With a stage of that magnitude I would have expected the whole ensemble to be present throughout, for dramatic effect.  Instead it was almost a matter of each performing one after the other and I couldn’t help but think that more combinations of the ‘skilled’ performers could have added a better flavor to the show.

The little vignettes that made up the evening’s programme promised to come to a crescendo but there was no link between them which left me wanting just a bit more, after the curtain fell.

An overall entertaining show and one that you should definitely see if you’ve never experienced this genre before.  But for me, the show could have been a winner if only it had incorporated more sex and more spectacle of intimacy.  But instead it was a bit watered down and not soapy enough for me, I’m afraid.

And by the way – where WAS the soap?

Soap The Show is presented by The Edge and Circle of Eleven and plays at The Civic until 28 August.  More information at The Edge.

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