La Soirée: cabaret and canoodles

Cheeky and agile quips, with agility and cheeks prominently on show, La Soirée at Southbank Centre’s Winter Wonderland is naughty but nice entertainment on a first class level. A word of advice before we get started: the wonderland outside might be kitsch and quaint, but this extravaganza isn’t one for the kids.

The best combination of cabaret, circus, vaudeville and stand-up, La Soirée presents a motley, international troupe of performance artists. Puddles, the ‘sad clown with a golden voice’ opens each half with resonant, endearing and comical ballads from which the dynamo glitz and sparkle of the acts burst into action.

The English Gents have to be the evening’s highlight. Initially garbed in bowler hats and suits, FT in hand, their death-defying, simply unbelievable body balancing acts could only be produced by physiques such as those which are eventually revealed. On the clap-o-meter of audience response these cheeky chaps were off the scale.

The English Gents

To the other acts… Asher Treleaven, king of schmooze, tells Mills and Boon quite unlike you’ve ever heard it before. Marcus Monroe (otherwise known as M&M and mmmmmmmmm) makes juggling risky and risqué. Jess Love – the cheeky effervescent hoola hooper extraordinaire – whirls to the audience’s delight. Scotty the Blue Bunny pops out of nowhere, intermittently, just to tell us exactly how he’s ended up touring the world in a sparkly baby blue spandex bunny suit. Rest assured, he’s done absolutely nothing with that extortionate college degree. And as the performers frequently point out, gender and sexuality are about as indeterminate as you’re gonna get here.

The second half climaxes into a flurry of circus-act-strip-teases from Ursula Martinez, the diva española (we suppose) and her disappearing red hanky, Tanya in sexy aerial acrobatics, and the comedy contortionist Jonathan Burns. David and Fofo create an extraordinary duo of athletics acrobatics interlaced with extraordinary ping pong ball oral control – unfortunately a little bit overshadowed by the feats of The English Gents.

There isn’t a bad seat in the house – the circus tent means even the back rows are well-positioned – although the booths look particularly fun for winter hen dos, office xmas parties and the like. All in all, for such an absurd and silly night, I will conclude as we were serenaded: ¡Viva la liberación sexual!

La Soirée is at Southbank’s Winter Wonderland until January 11. Huge thanks to Rebecca from Official Theatre for the ticket, a pretty outstanding evening for my first outing as part of #LDNTheatreBloggers!

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