In the Spiegeltent at Leicester Square lies a small circular stage surrounded by an audience of buzzing spectators. We’re told to ‘leave our troubles at the door’ and are promised a magnificent show – and what a magnificent show we get. Ushered inside by bedazzled staff to unallocated seats (get there in plenty of time to nab a good one), we wait for the evening to begin. La Soirée won the Olivier award in 2015 for Best Entertainment show, and after just ten minutes in to the party it was obvious why. From jugglers to hula-hoopers, gymnasts to cabaret divas – La Soirée has it all, and then some.
La Soirée is unlike any show I’ve ever seen before. Its variety of weird and wonderful performers means there is never a dull moment. It’s a marvellous mixed bag of cabaret, comedy, circus and burlesque. We watch through our hands as Captain Frodo, an extremely bendy Norwegian man, contorts himself into hilariously precarious positions. We ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at Jarred Dewey twists and turns on a trapeze in the air above us, and roar with laughter as naked La Soirée veteran Ursula Martinez performs saucy tricks with her little red hanky.
Crowd favourites are Marc and Svetlana, otherwise known as Daredevil Chicken, who in a style of comedy I can only describe as ‘sexy slapstick’ delight and disgust us with their fabulously flirty routine. The audience interaction combined with the relatively cosy space of the Spiegeltent; the celebration of all sorts of people, young and old, black and white, fat and thin, all make for a unique atmosphere under the tent, one of warmth and celebration.
However, it’s one half of The English Gents – Denis Lock – who steals the show with his bubble artistry in a heart-warming and jaw-dropping sequence. With a tender voice and a pipe hanging from his mouth, there is complete silence as he delicately creates a display that is nothing short of beautiful, and stops the whole show in its tracks.
A carousel of curiosities, La Soirée was a show I didn’t want to end. Miles from the traditional Christmas pantomime, this festive treat is not for the faint hearted. It was magical and mesmerising, and it will probably stay with me forever. It thoroughly deserves the worldwide success and critical acclaim it has experienced since opening at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004. Believe the hype. It is unforgettable, I already want to see it again.
La Soirée is at the Spiegeltent at Leicester Square until January 8 2017.