(Van Badham’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/16.)
In a festival program heavy with circuses and circus acts, finding an elevating distinction can be an onerous challenge. But Scotch and Soda meets it – and gloriously – by locating their tumbles and tricks within an immersive, theatrical dreamworld of a bawdy circus party.
The "party" is located within a total design aesthetic that imagines the event in some kind of dusty parallel universe to America's depression-era travelling circuses and Europe's 19th century carnival past. Every visual detail of the production is perfectly judged – from the brocade on the bruised military jackets of the band, to the wax tips of a moustache or two, to the flounce on the female acrobat's leotard.
The dirty suitcases, crappy card tables and beer bottles used in the tricks are subject to a production vision that understands the true audience appeal of velvet-curtained canvas tents like the Circus Ronaldo space – a dreamy nostalgia for the spit-and-sawdust miracles of old-fashioned proletarian entertainment.
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