La Soirée Is One Heck Of A Trip

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 45 months ago
La Soirée Is One Heck Of A Trip ★★★★★ 5

Defying gravity: The English Gents are just one of the many acts in the current run of La Defying gravity: The English Gents are just one of the many acts in the current run of La Soirée.
Defying gravity: The English Gents are just one of the many acts in the current run of La Soirée.

Londonist Rating: ★★★★★

“Whatever was used against you — whatever part of your personality held you back as a child — just might be what you get paid for when you're all grown up.”

After passing on this wry piece of philosophy, a very tall American in a shiny blue bunny outfit ascends the tiny stage accompanied by a huge balloon. What happens next would leave even Buzzfeed agog. Welcome to La Soirée — where the lunatics have not only taken over the asylum but are inviting us in come in and watch.

It's taken three years but the Olivier Award-winning globetrotting circus variety extravaganza has finally returned to its spiritual home of London. There are some familiar faces from 2011, and some excellent new additions. In his rhinestone-studded lycra rabbit outfit, Scotty The Blue Bunny is like an acid trip gone right. He has no particular circus skills but his sheer force of personality effortlessly fills the Spiegeltent.

There’s no chopped liver in this all-killer no-filler show. Hamish McCann steps horizontally through thin air as he revolves around a pole. A giant singing clown has the tent singing Lorde’s Royals with him before a heartbreaking, hypnotic rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. ­Contortionist Jonathan Burns squeezes his way through a tennis racket and, um, a toilet seat.

Ursula Martinez is one of the all-time La Soirée classics. Her infamous internet hit Hanky Panky sees her makes the eponymous item appear and disappear before finally pulling one from where the sun doesn't shine (no, not Birmingham). Croydon-born Martinez is later joined by her record-breaking wife Jess Love for a non-nude version of Quick Change, Sex Change, their bouncy gender-bending routine that combines lindy-hopping, magic and burlesque.

With no out-and-out compère and frequent bursts of comedy, there’s a continuous stream of entertainment and far more lols than lulls. There are saucy chuckles courtesy of Australian Asher Trevelean, New York’s Marcus Monroe cracks wise while juggling machetes, the English Gents bare almost all for Queen and country in the name of incredible physical antics, and creative producer Brett Haylock keeps the whole behemoth chugging along with his MC spots.

Televised talentfests like Britain's Got Talent may whet the appetite for all things vaudeville but it is only when seen live that the spectacle becomes truly spectacular. This is the sine qua non of water cooler shows and will leave you talking about it until the cows come home, go off to pasture and then come home again.

La Soirée continues until 11 January as part of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival. Not all the acts mentioned above will be in all shows so check ahead if there's a particular one you want to see. Ticket information can be found on the official website.

Londonist attended on a press ticket.

Last Updated 13 November 2014