Sophie’s Surprise 29th – Underbelly Boulevard, London

Reviewer: Sonny Waheed

It’s Sophie’s birthday today, but she doesn’t know it yet. That’s because she’s yet to be plucked out of tonight’s audience! Welcome to a house party with a twist, and some fire, and some rollerskating and a lot more besides.

Tonight, Sophie will be celebrating her special day with a group of young, streetwise, working-class friends. They’re all here, the chav (Nathan Redwood Price), the goth (Cornelius Atkinson), the raver (Dru Cripps), the shy one (Katherine Arnold) and even the easy one (Isis Clegg-Vinell)… all to give Sophie a surprise party.

What we all have waiting for us is an evening of circus and cabaret set to a pumping early noughties dance and pop soundtrack. There’s fire twirling, rope gymnastics, rollerskating acrobatics, and even naked beatboxing (fortunately some dignity is preserved thanks to a very well-placed portable sound mixing unit).

This party is an energetic, funny, jaw-dropping spectacle, with a little bit of serious messaging thrown in for good measure (cue references to socio-economic circumstances and the narrow-minded representation of the working classes in the arts).

The blending of cabaret and circus is far from new, but this house party/rave setting gives a new twist to a genre that’s typically played with more serious tones. But don’t let the baggy tracksuits and fake designer leisurewear fool you. There are no wannabes here when it comes to the performances.

The troupe are at the top of their games. Having worked with the likes of Cirque du Soleil, The 7 Fingers, and La Clique, they bring amazing skills, faultless performances, and a knack for entertaining. The individual acts are jaw-droppingly breathtaking, made all the more impactful by the sheer proximity the audience is to the stage – you can literally feel the heat of the live flames.

With a heavy dose of humour and some light audience participation thrown into the mix, this is a cabaret evening that leaves you beaming ear to ear. It’s Cirque du Soleil without nonsensical fantasy narrative or the pretentious world-music soundtrack. It’s pop songs, banter, and laughs… and all the better for it. The only problem is that, at 90 minutes, it’s far too short.

Runs until 28 June 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Brilliant, amazing, fun.

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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