Pros: Captivating, hilarious, sexy.
Cons: The burlesque act paled in comparison to the magnificence of the other sets. ‘Puddles Pity Party’ (the clown) was also given one or two too many songs.
The Southbank and Southbank Centre are always worth a trip this time of year. The Christmas Tree Maze, Rekoderlig Cider Lodge and Christmas Market stalls aid the uniquely festive atmosphere that envelops the area. But deep within the surrounding attractions, in an unassuming temporary structure, is a triumph more magical even than the time of year it occupies – La Soiree. Housed within a dazzling mirrored tent, this spectacle blends burlesque, cabaret, theatre, circus, street performing and just about everything else into a very special Christmas treat.
La Soiree is a cabaret show where traditional acts such as juggling and trapeze dwell alongside more exotic fare like hula dancing and ping-pong ball-bouncing antics. Each performance is brilliant in its own way, but certain acts live in the memory: Marcus Monroe’s self-deprecating wit; The English Gents’ inhumane strength as they lift each other from impossible positions; Asher Trekeaven’s dirty story-telling and Ursula Martinez’s song and Spanish routine. There is no need to fully regale what each act actually does, as the set list may change from night to night, but quality is unlikely to be affected. Although each act lasts only five minutes, they are all worthy of a paragraph on how uniquely wonderful they are.
The show also delights in other ways. Brett Haylock’s compering is invigorating yet sincere whilst other tie-in sections are equally engaging. The music is loud, rousing and perfectly chosen, not least when Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ seamlessly becomes Muse’s cover version in the show’s finale. The varied types of seats (standing, booth, table, ringside, etc.) create an informal atmosphere that accentuates the professionalism of the piece. There is a similar juggling act (pun alert) between the high levels of technique and skill and each performer’s calm wit and/or sex appeal. As this kind of thing goes, these guys are at the top of the list yet the show still feels daring and unburdened by expectation.
No audience member will be unfamiliar with the types of skill on display, especially in a city like London where street performers flourish, but the quality, humour and charm that each act teems with puts London’s street performers to shame. These types of acts are generally limited to street performances and small sets, possibly because they become boring over an extended period of time, but that is their strength. One leaves the tent wanting to see more, but therein exists the beauty of cabaret – its rarity and ability to impress in such a short amount of time. It achieves wonder ten times when most pieces can only get there once. It is something that may only remain exciting when consumed in small portions, but how mind-blowing those portions are.
Creative Producer: Brett Haylock
Booking Until: 11 January 2015
Box Office: 020 7960 4200
Booking Link: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/la-soir%C3%A9e-87403