La Soirée – Spiegeltent, Southbank Centre Review

Published by Daniel Bennifer on November 18, 2015 12:00 pm
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La Soirée at Southbank Centre’s Spiegeltent delivers an evening of sex-obsessed circus and cabaret, that will both amaze and amuse.

It’s that time of the year again. The nights are growing dark earlier and there’s a brisk chill in the air. It’s a time of year when we’re adorned with a joyous selection of Christmas shows. Today’s offering, though, is a little out of the ordinary – at least, for some. But don’t let that dissuade you. La Soirée, the Olivier-award winning show, which returns to London’s Southbank, might be the best show you see this festive season.

The show promises an exciting evening of circus and cabaret, mixed with a contemporary twist. Its allure is immediately apparent from the moment you arrive at the Spiegeltent – the perfect venue for the night – and are welcomed into the warm by ushers in vintage pinstripe attire. It harkens back to the vaudeville and circus sideshow of the 1930s. The atmosphere is stunning.

Yet, the real attraction at La Soirée is its impressive line-up of performers, each delivering an act that will entertain, mesmerize, amuse (that’s an understatement) and possibly make you suspend belief – even if only for a moment.

Opening the show, is the undeniably fabulous Miss Frisky, renowned on the cabaret scene for her voice, having performed from London’s West End to the Sydney Opera House. She delivers a beautiful rendition of CeCe Peniston’s Finally, before the lights are turned down and she disappears from sight – not for the last time.

Seemingly, as quick as she vanishes into the darkness, another act begins. It’s time for Mario, Queen of the Circus. A first-generation entertainer, born into the circus (you work that one out), who embodies the very spirit of Freddie Mercury, combining sexual appeal with world-class juggling tricks to the rock anthems of Queen. It’s risqué, hilarious and highly entertaining.

This is made all the more funnier, by the fact that one onlooker just so happens to be Brian May – who’s sitting in the crowd. One can only ponder his thoughts on the spectacle in-front of him.

Up next is Denis Lock and Hamish McCann, who have been dubbed – rather fittingly – as The English Gents. The chiselled duo – who make the females in the audience audibly gasp – perform immense feats of acrobatic skill, strength and balance, infused with an Englishman’s dry wit and humour. Before the end of their sexually-charged act, which sees McCann performing a handstand on Lock’s head, the pair will bare nearly every inch for Queen and country. Admittedly, that part is more for the ladies, rather than the menfolk in the audience. But if you aren’t sitting in awe throughout, regardless of gender, then we’d be gobsmacked.

It’s hard to find the right words to describe the Norwegian man who takes to the stage next. Listed on the bill as Captain Frodo, but also known as the “The Incredible Rubberman”, this Guinness World Record breaking contortionist, who lives in Australia is the son of infamous magician “The Great Santini”. Purportedly having been performed since the age of four, Frodo is able to manipulate his body into an assortment of shapes that are truly bewildering – and slightly repulsive to behold. He uses this skill (let’s call it that, should we?), to fit through two tennis racquets – the second one, smaller than the first.

The Captain’s performance surely detracts from the sexual nature of the show, more than build on it. It’s more sideshow and not for the faint of heart (we mean it, folks). Though, it’s not long after until Asher Treleaven appears and reignites it – or tries to. One of Australia’s most acclaimed comedians, the sexual gentlemen and bon vivant brings his unique blend of physical comedy to La Soirée, performing what he calls the diabolo Kamasutra. By the end, you won’t know whether to blush, laugh or hide your face. Perhaps, its best to do all three. Needless to say, though, there wasn’t a straight face in the audience throughout his act. It was undeniably funny and you’re in for a real treat if you arrive on a night when he’s performing.

La Soirée is truly a variety show. From the moment the show begins, you never know what to expect next. That’s always an exciting feeling and the next performer, Mooky, sticks with this tradition. Though, it uses the formula of a personal pet-hate of mine: audience participation.


By the end, you won’t know whether to blush, laugh or hide your face.”

Extremely risqué, La Soirée is not for children or the faint of heart. It is an evening of amazement, that is the perfect way to fight back the oncoming winter blues. Don’t miss it – nights out don’t come much better than this.

Specifically, Mooky requests the help of a solitary member of the audience. From left to right, people slowly put their heads down and attempt to avoid eye contact. After a few turn downs from the audience, one chap agrees to climb on stage. Little does he know what he’s gotten himself into. What proceeds, is a rather hefty performance between the two, including a lip-synch duet. All I can say is good on him – I’d have bailed long before the end.

It’s at this point where a ramp is rolled out, from which a motorbike – yes, an actual motorbike – drives onto the stage. On the back is Melanie Chy, a third generation performer of Swiss, Italian and Chinese descent, with the agility of an Olympic gymnast, who has revived the ancient art of hand balancing, in a performance which takes place atop the very handlebars of the bike itself.

Before the second half of the show, there’s a brief window – enough time to grab a drink, catch up with some fellow theatregoers and return to your seat – where we’re reunited with Mario, Frisky and Frodo, respectively – who deliver a second routine.

Yammel Rodriguez, who has a love for the finest Cuban cigars, comes on next. An incredible and seductive aerialist, Rodriguez presents an innovative act on a single strap. Relatively new to the scene – in comparison to some of the other performers – we imagine she’ll soon be in high demand.

La Soirée - Spiegeltent, Southbank Centre Review La Soirée - Spiegeltent, Southbank Centre Review La Soirée - Spiegeltent, Southbank Centre Review

It is the next act, which sees Denis Lock, one half of The English Gents, reappear. It is also one that truly defies belief. In this performance, science “steps away from the chalkboard”, as what is brought forth from Lock’s pipe takes hold of our very imagination at its core. In the simplest form, it is bubble sculpting. Yet, it is so much more than that. It is a lesson in the fragility of our very lives – that places an emphasis on living in the moment. Utterly beautiful, it is the single act which was adored with a standing ovation – which it deserved immensely.

Not to be outdone, the other half of The English Gents will later take the stage once again, but not before an aerial ballet performance from Bret Pfister and a second appearance from Treleaven, who reads a snippet from a rather saucy book – making a fair amount of it up, in the process – to hilarious consequences. Though, when it’s time for Hamish’s solo act, be prepared to sit in amazement. His one-of-a-kind pole routine, which plays out to ‘Singing in the Rain’, will leave you breathless.

In short, La Soirée is a cross between circus, cabaret and vaudeville. But, at the same time, it is so much more than this. It is an evening of incredible acts that will leave you continuously wanting more. It’s undeniably seductive and sexy. More-so, it’s extravagant, it’s extremely entertaining and utterly sex-obsessed. It delivers on everything it sets out to in spades. Circus, simply doesn’t get any better than this.

La Soirée will run until January 17 in the Spiegeltent at the Southbank Centre. Tickets are available for purchase from here. Book now to avoid disappointment. It is definitely not to be missed. Shows this entertaining don’t come around often.


The Verdict













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