For my first show of 2011, I couldn’t have picked anything more diverse, entertaining and unique as La Soirée which has found a home in a specially erected Big Top behind the National Theatre. And I sincerely hope this performance will foreshadow my theatregoing in the upcoming year.
Upon arrival, you are instantly whisked away to a land of corsets, bunting, lime light and bowler hats. The stunning marquee is filled with usherettes in pencil skirts and you are shrouded in a world of red velvet. Then you are moved into the main venue, through mirrored doors, where seats surround a circular stage, which is already set for the best part – the acts.
A voice like an opera star, a body squeezed into lycra, La Gateau Chocolat lilts and laughs at the audience, constantly placing his sequinned derriere on unsuspecting hunks, all the while blasting notes to give any baritone a run for his money.
The Norwegian Captain Frodo was both awe-inspiring and comical as he pushed through a 10 inch tennis racquet – and yes, that’s from head to toe. With a combination of awkward comedy, charm and a ridiculous ability to bend, he left you wanting more whilst trying to work out what it was you’d seen in the first place. Note: not for the queasy as dislocation is involved!
Three men who definitely left you wanting more were Denis Lock and Hamish McCann, aka The English Gents, and David O’Mer. Both acts found half-naked men balancing on heads, pole dancing to Muse’s music, and swinging from ropes above a bath tub. Aside from their rippling muscles and oozing sex appeal, their skill and tricks could rival Cirque du Soleil.
The MC, husky voiced but loud-mouthed Miss Behave, could only be watched through fingers as she swallowed scissors, a table leg, and pierced her tongue with a rose. In a style that appeared to mix Victorian sideshow with Tim Burton costumes, she was a formidable mistress of ceremonies who constantly stole drinks and cackled from the aisles.
Mooky was a less obvious choice for the circus-come-cabaret, but her slightly awkward laughter and slapstick wit were safe and funny. An innovative twist was getting an audience member to act a duologue with her, all their lines stuck to strategic body parts. An amusing, if less shocking, act that was slightly more intellectual than the others.
The one to shock them all, Ursula Martinez. To the sound of James Bond-esque melodies, this suit-clad magician became the ultimate ‘reveal all’ act. And I think I will leave it for you to decide what I mean.
A truly remarkable collaboration, with something for everyone to enjoy. With incredible talent, a beautiful venue, and tangible friendliness, La Soirée is a fantastic night out for those seeking something a little more out of the ordinary than your usual West End production.
La Soirée is showing at the Southbank Big Top behind The National Theatre until 27th February. Tickets can be brought through the website here.