Stepping into the Spiegeltent at London Wonderground on the South Bank is like stepping back in time. This old-style big top is an appropriate setting for acrobatic jazz troop Scotch and Soda. They dress for the period complete with the grime of a travelling, rag-tag troop of entertainers. In fact they are a horse and gypsy cart short of looking completely authentic.
Take your seat early* as they are on stage getting ready. Proud Pierre (Ben Walsh), who leads the musicians, is waxing his moustache, others are preparing their instruments. The acrobats are playing cards and tricks on each other and the oddball Bush Stranger (Mozes) with his soot-smudged face and impressive beard is roaming around the auditorium.
It sets the tone for some nerve jangling acrobatics accompanied by live jazz. There are aerial stunts with a trapeze and rope that had my palms sweating just watching - there is no safety net, occasionally they put out a mattress. But that didn't have me holding my breath quite as much the stunts performed on a higgledy-piggledy stack of trunks and crates.
The live jazz accompaniment includes interludes on home-made instruments, there is an amusing costume malfunction and even the troop's pets make an appearance.
Scotch and Soda's show is lively, funny and at times utterly awe-inspiring. It's a great fun, go and be amazed, go and be entertained, you won't see anything quite like this. You've got until August 2 and the show last an hour and 15 minutes.
* It's unallocated seating with different prices for different sections of the auditorium.
More on the South Bank:
Coming soon: Briefs - saw them last year, get your ticket now.