Circus review: Scotch And Soda - Edinburgh

The musicians and acrobats are highly polished in their execution. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
The musicians and acrobats are highly polished in their execution. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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AS THE name suggests, alcohol plays a fairly central role in this highly enjoyable circus show. Bottles of booze are walked on, used to prop up the set, balanced on foreheads and poured into shot glasses.

Scotch And Soda

St Andrew Square, Edinburgh


It’s a fairly safe bet, however, that not a single drop of the real hard stuff passes the lips of any of the cast – because delivering this show under the influence would be impossible.

Deliberately rough and ready in appearance, but highly polished in execution, Scotch and Soda has hard work and talent at its core. Not only does that make for a good show, but it renders the performers instantly likeable. They know they’re good at what they do – be it playing an instrument or using their physical strength and dexterity on a tumble or trapeze – so none of them feels the need to elicit applause or recognition every 30 seconds like some circus troupes.

Instead, this merry band of raggedly-dressed oddities go about their business, using old crates and bags to decorate the stage, and give the whole thing a “spit and sawdust” pub feel.

The ten-strong cast is actually divided into two distinct factions – musicians and acrobats. Talented multi-instrumentalists The Crusty Suitcase Band keep up a non-stop jazzy soundtrack, played on saxophones, valve trombone, clarinet, double bass and a bespoke drum kit which looks like it started life as a pushchair.

Meanwhile four fearless acrobats, and their highly competent rigger, give us something to worry about (in the best way possible). They are, of course, in complete control – but high balances and intricate trapeze work with no safety mat inevitably brings about a collective tensing of audience muscles.

Exact descriptions here would do nothing but spoil the fun of discovery, but suffice to say there’s plenty to keep you entertained. The Scotch and Soda team have spent years honing their craft and pushing the boundaries of their act (and their own abilities) – yet the daredevil antics are only one part of this show’s charm.

There’s a warmth and honesty to the production that makes you feel as if the Spiegeltent is your local pub and the guys on stage your pals, which means when they land a gravity-defying summersault, hover perilously on the trapeze or perform a single handstand under heart-stopping conditions, you’re rooting for them all the more.

Seen on 24.11.14

• Until 21 December