Soap: a sexy night on the tiles at the Brisbane Festival

In the past, Soap was made by rendering lard. In this tight show, Soap at the Brisbane Festival, there is not a speck of fat visible.

The pace is fast, and the body is lean. The aural senses are also put through a frenetic workout. We’ll be listening to Sia, Goldfrapp, and Beethoven one moment and then Rimsky Korsakov and Strauss the next.

This show is oddly old-fashioned despite its references to the music of today. It is basically a circus in a toilet.

Five claw-footed tubs are scattered across the stage. Trapeze artists, contortionists, and tumblers all show their talents as they jump off, around, and in them. The operatic diva, perched high on a modernist tub from which she emerges as a goddess, is the leader of this troupe.

The work is also very coy. It is a family-friendly work, even though there is plenty of flesh on display. You may see the men pretending to strip, but you will never be exposed to their full monty.

This show is well-versed in the tensile power of fabric. The way towels and sheets are juggled, whirled, and spun in the air seems to defy all physics. No matter how extreme the position of their gymnastic wearers, those white Y fronts will not come off.

The aggression in the scene overshadows any romanticism. The cheek kiss between two female performers is not an expression of Sapphic love but rather a little girl-on-girl excitement for the guy who shares the tub.

This show is more interested in the physical mechanics of the human body than its emotional register. Here is where the bathroom setting shines.

Bathrooms are private spaces, particularly in the Anglo tradition. They are places where we can be alone with ourselves and our bodies. This can be a very alienating experience when you see your reflection at an unusual angle.

Does our body really look that way? This show captures a lot of the magic of the bathroom experience.

The human body has never felt so foreign to me. I was amazed as these specimens displayed muscles I had no idea existed, assumed poses, or attempted feats of strength I would have thought impossible. After watching a scene where two pairs of toes fall in love, I had to reconsider the power of my toes. I’ve never had such an emotional connection to a pair of phalanges.

The actors are certainly more confident with their body language than with their words. The lyrics that were written to accompany classical music pieces but focused on the bathroom are a failure. The Blue Danube being renamed the Blue Dantub is a ridiculous idea.

This failure is made even more bizarre by the abundance of bathroom puns in English. There is plenty to choose from when it comes to verbal spas. As always, it’s best to avoid using bathroom puns.

When bodies meet water, the best parts of the show are created. They don’t mind getting wet and take the same liberties as theatergoers. They turn their water cannons on the audience in one of their wonderful opening scenes, which, as Brisbane prepares to welcome the G20, seems a bit rash.

The fluid state is the goal of dance. Choreographers have used the presence of water for centuries to overcome the problem of too-solid flesh. The spray of drops highlights the arms and legs. Buoyancy creates the illusion of weightlessness.

The splash of water reminds us that dance is primordial and elemental. Thales, an ancient philosopher, believed that water was the source of all life; it was a foundation for everything, and water was what made everything beautiful. This is a ridiculous idea.

The power of Soap lies in the fact that, for a moment, it appears to be a perfectly sane and possible position.

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