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Soap review at Underbelly, London – ‘splashy, frothy bathtub fun’

Anton Belyakov in Soap at Underbelly, London. Photo: Richard Lakos
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The central idea of Soap – acrobats performing in and around bathtubs containing actual water – sounds like a cross between a CBeebies stage show, a sleaze-merchant’s wet dream and an insurance nightmare.

Fortunately, it isn’t all suds and gussets. In fact, there isn’t any soap at all. Bubbles aside, it’s straightforwardly frothy fun; 70 minutes of bathroom buffoonery to expunge the cares of the day, involving the kind of high-quality tubs with legs of which us Generation Renters can only dream.

Some of it’s a bit old hat but entertaining nonetheless – bare limbs scissoring out of baths along to the beat; a trio of blokes in the nude niftily swapping towels in time to the cygnet dance from Swan Lake; a mini-symphony of gargles and gurgles. At times it approaches a more serious sensuality via bathtub-and-ballad contortion numbers, in which the performers – particularly Lena Ries – display the seemingly jointless flexibility of amoeba.

Brawny Daniel Leo Stern emerges from a bath in soggy jeans and rises into space on the aerial straps, almost as if the famous hunk from the 1990s Diet Coke advert was newly-birthed from a ceramic uterus, lightly dripping amniotic fluid.

Moritz Haase impresses on the trapeze with daring flips, while Vanessa Alvarez’s effortless foot juggling – with a guitar – is truly gasp-inducing stuff. In a splashy denouement, kagoule-clad Anton Belyakov folds his legs with origami precision while balancing upside down braced on the sides of a tub. If only everyday ablutions could be this compelling.

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Verdict
Fun bathtub-based circus show containing a couple of gasp-inducing moments
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