Pros: A wonderful night of cabaret performed by people at the top of their game, with enough variety to suit all tastes.
Cons: Whilst it’s great to see this show in a West End theatre, it just isn’t quite the right venue. And of course, those West End prices!
It’s very difficult to fault La Soirée. It is what it is. High energy cabaret, offering a little something for everyone. The depth of talent on offer, the variety of performances and the seamless changeovers make this a show that will not let you down. It offers a quality evening out and any faults aren’t of its own making but due to the venue.
A show like La Soirée needs intimacy. It needs the audience almost on stage with the performers. A big West End theatre is not designed for such intimacy, and is the only thing that lets La Soirée down. But my god, they do make every effort to overcome this problem.
The front half of the stalls are removed to allow space for the central podium and surrounding seats. For many of the acts the performers are right in the audience’s lap; quite literally on a couple of occasions (so be warned if you grab a front row seat!). Yet this leaves a big area of the stage unoccupied. La Soirée get around that problem by placing seats and tables in the space too, adding more to that intimacy as performers work their magic within touching distance.
All this effort can only go so far to hide the fact that a big London theatre can never offer the intimacy of other venues. I assume it was intentional that the back half of the stalls are left empty, not selling too many tickets to avoid giving those further back a lesser experience had the place been full. A venue such as Underbelly, where La Soirée have previously performed, is so much better suited. But then again, who can blame them for grabbing the opportunity to be in the West End over Christmas, when they are surely going to be introduced to a whole new and bigger audience.
So, what of the show itself then? In one word, faultless. You get exactly what you expect. A little comedy, a little acrobatics, a little innuendo, a little sauciness. Oh ok, that last one is misleading. You get a lot of sauciness. In fact if you risk sitting right at the front, you might even become part of that sauciness, in addition to enjoying (quite possibly a way too close up of) some comedic male nudity.
There really is something for everyone during its two hours. I’m sure each audience member would point to something different as their highlight. Personally, the puppetry of Montreal’s Cabaret Decadanse was mine. The six foot plus female Motown singing puppet that opened the show could easily have been the show closer as the two skillful puppeteers give life to something extraordinary.
A close second, and my plus one’s favourite (besides that aforementioned male nudity!) was the slapstick comedy of Daredevil Chicken. What they do with the bananas (and it’s not what your dirty minds are currently thinking) is both gross and ingenious at the same time, although again, I’m probably glad I wasn’t in the firing range of that front row!
La Soirée deserves its place in the West End, it’s more a question of whether the West End deserves La Soirée. If you want to experience top class cabaret, go and see this, but once you have seen it here, trust me, you’ll want to experience it again at its utmost brilliance in better suited venues.
Producers: Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein, Mick Perrin
Booking Until: 3 February 2018
Box Office: 0845 200 7981
Booking Link: https://www.nederlander.co.uk/whats-on/la-soiree/dates/?whitelabel=true