Choosing a circus act to see at the Fringe can be difficult especially if you want to see something different. Predictably you will see a number of acts perform amazing stunts and you will come away impressed and carry on with your day. Sophie’s Surprise 29th however takes a different approach to this formulaic performance.

Framed as, you guessed it, a surprise party, one lucky member of the audience gets to be Sophie for the night which creates unpredictable results. There is a mixed bag of characters including an ugly duckling, a goth boy, Neds, a drug dealer and the party host, some of which have worked with Cirque du Soleil and waste no time getting started, throwing each other around to some classic 90s songs millennials will know and love.

“Sophie” isn’t the only person to get involved, with a variety of acts requiring some form of audience participation. The most hilarious and climatic of these performances is a naked drug dealer protecting his man-hood with a bobble hat and balancing on a unicycle, requiring audience members to throw his clothes back to him. Even for a professional such as Sam Goodburn aka Wheeler Dealer, this is a difficult task as the audience watch in an anticipation for one wrong move which made it all the more entertaining. Goodburn handles the pressure well and manages to finish to a very appreciative applause. Cornelius Atkinson plays Goth Boy, a sensitive soul who can perform tantalizing moves in the air with ariel ropes to Nirvana’s ‘Something in the Way’. An aerialist who writes their own Twilight Fanfiction, which the audience love, this Goth has depth and most impressively can do all that in skinny jeans.

Katherine Arnold is our Ugly Duckling who undergoes a transformation for the guy she fancies similar to Sandy out of Grease if she was bendy and could hang herself from the ceiling. Arnold performs a number of impressive feats, climbing and balancing from a rope to later bending herself into gravity-defying positions on an ariel hoop. On the flip-side, our Party Host Nella Niva gets a bit too into the party spirit, throwing herself around on exercise balls which was somehow the scariest part of the show. Seeing the speed she propels onto multiple balls, bouncing, standing and balancing and finally flying into the audience is nail-biting stuff. The Neds Nathan Price and Isis Cleg-Vennel wowed as a double act, performing balancing tricks, rollerblading stunts and ariel acts with the support of Atkinson. You can tell how much each performer appreciates the other, even while acting as their playful characters.

This is a purposefully silly yet professional show with a noticeably welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.  What makes this show different is the acts aren’t just performing for you, they perform with you. This as well as the character roles and party vibes really sets this show out from the rest. Highly recommend seeing it before going on a night out, you won’t want the party to end!

Sophie’s Surprise 29th has finished its run