Sophie’s Surprise 29th at the Underbelly Boulevard | Review

This is circus, comedy and chaos disguised as a house party” to quote the press release! And it makes for a superb ninety minutes! The hugely talented cast of six almost succeed in getting us to believe that we have all been invited to Sophie’s Surprise 29th birthday party, and she herself appears, apparently amazed at what is going on! The Underbelly Boulevard is an ideal venue for this style of cabaret entertainment, seating about 200 almost “in-the-round” so that everyone feels they are within touching distance of the artistes, who perform from a small central stage.

Sophie's Surprise 29th - Credit Craig Sugden.
Sophie’s Surprise 29th – Credit Craig Sugden.

Katharine Arnold is fearless in what she can do with a rope dangling from the roof in the first half of the show and is equally at ease in her use of the hoop later on.

Cornelius Atkinson is equally adept in his use of the straps, winding and unwinding himself at great speed and using his skills of balance and strength effortlessly – until one thinks of the total impossibility of doing what he does oneself!

Of the two skills that Josie Jones demonstrates, both must surely be painful!! The first is undertaking amazing acrobatic feats whilst only being held by her hair, the second is that of juggling with fire, as well as apparently burning herself with the flames and showering the auditorium as she rotates above the stage. You can tell that she is ‘playing’ with real fire owing to the heat! This act in particular is one of the best circus acts I have seen: quite thrilling, especially as the audience is so close!

Nathan Price and Isis Clegg-Vinell have been working together for over ten years, but this is the first time that I have caught their roller-skating act which is a quite phenomenal piece of athletic activity, firstly because of the speed involved, and secondly because of the way that Isis allows herself to be flung all over the place and is asked to balance herself in many seemingly impossible positions whilst moving. Thrilling!

However this completely stunning act is topped by the finale (almost) of the show in which she, Nathan and Cornelius join in a heart-stopping demonstration of acrobats using the vertical possibilities of the stage, and heart-stopping is the correct term when Isis, in various different positions, is repeatedly dropped from a height by Cornelius – and caught by Nathan. The precision of the three artistes is simply superb – there I have used that word again! – and is undoubtedly the highlight of a most unusual show.

All of the above are acrobats at the top of their game and, together with Dru Cripps as the ‘comic relief’, make the audience quickly feel involved so that, by the end , we are all joining in with Sophie in singing along to Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’. This is a highly entertaining, relaxing, evening at the circus. VERY highly recommended!

5 Star Rating

Review by John Groves

Get in losers, Sophie is turning 29 and we’re celebrating.

This is circus, comedy and chaos disguised as a house party. Imagine if Cirque du Soleil had sunstroke, Spice Girls never broke up and Les Miserables was actually Les Happyables.

Featuring world-leading performers from La Clique, The 7 Fingers, Cirque du Soleil, and more, Sophie’s Surprise 29th is stumbling into Underbelly Boulevard for its London debut. Expect Twilight fan fiction, death-defying circus feats and a pumping soundtrack at the craziest party of your life.

Get your Walkmans, scrunchies and halter tops ready, the party starts April 11.
Remember… don’t tell Sophie.

CAST
Katharine Arnold
Cornelius Atkinson
Isis Clegg-Vinell
Dru Cripps
Josie Jones
Nathan Price

Booking to 28th June 2024
https://underbellyboulevard.com/

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