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Curtain goes up for new Soho show at Peacock Theatre

'Soho is not just a place, it’s a state of mind,' says production director Paul Cockle

12 May, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Places including Madame Jojo’s, Bar Italia and Chinatown feature in the production [Photos: Stufish]

WITH a whole cast of colourful characters with interesting stories to tell, some would say it is only fitting for the world of Soho to be given its own show. That is exactly what happened this week as the curtain went up on a new production called SOHO from company Stufish at the Peacock Theatre.

The “fusion of dance, circus and theatre” shines a spotlight on some of the area’s most famous places including Berwick Street, Soho Square and Madame Jojo’s club, but it also delves into fantasy, as if a person is lost in a dreamlike version of Soho, according to Stufish’s production director Paul Cockle.

He said: “It is a very contemporary look at Soho as a community and as an environment. It brings out a lot of the history, a lot of the themes and different perspectives of what Soho is. We say Soho is not just a place, it’s a state of mind, that’s the strap line.

“There is a Piccadilly Circus, an Oxford Circus, but not a Soho Circus. It takes all these themes and pulls out a positive statement that Soho is a fantastic place and we don’t want to lose it,” he said.

“There is this sort of aspirational feel to it, there is hope connected to the creativity of the place but it touches on the area’s dark side too.

“Abigail Yeates who is the director and initial conceiver of the idea did a lot of research. She spoke to the Soho Society and did interviews with people in the community, including the people behind Bar Italia and Madame Jojo’s. Everyone is very keen on idea of the show, let’s hope it sums up their feelings about the place.”

He added: “There is a very iconic musical soundtrack which involves everyone from David Bowie to Mozart and some new composition as well.”

Many familiar faces from Soho were at the Peacock Theatre on Wednesday evening. Tony Shrimplin from the Museum of Soho said: “It was filled with a youthful vitality and energy. It could possibly do with a little narrative, as some of the references may not be that obvious to the uninitiated, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Members of the Soho Society, including president Leslie Hardcastle, as well as Wendy Hardcastle and Clare Lynch were also in the audience.

Mr Hardcastle said he enjoyed it thoroughly. “It is a group of artists with amazing skill and dedication, they were physically fantastic,” he said. “It was Soho of the past rather than Soho of the present and future.”

Mr Cockle said: “It has been a long time coming as an idea but luckily it happens to be pretty topical with the developments in Soho at the moment.” A character playing a Crossrail developer makes a brief appearance in one scene.

Mr Cockle said the reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive. “Everyone is loving it who is coming to see it, we are selling like hot cakes which is great. We’ve had standing ovations. Stufish worked together with students from the National Centre for Circus Arts in Hoxton to develop the production and it was soon booked by Sadler’s Wells Theatre.”

SOHO: Circus, Street Dance, Theatre runs at the Peacock Theatre, Holborn, until May 20. Ticket office: 020 7863 8222.

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