Review: La Soiree Is A Shock Success Story

La Soirée, Spiegeltent ★★★★★

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 37 months ago
Review: La Soiree Is A Shock Success Story La Soirée, Spiegeltent 5

Isn’t it about time we celebrated a real London success story? Maybe one that stretches from the cobbles of Covent Garden to around the world then back to this year’s Olivier Theatre awards? One that embodies the spirit of human endeavour over corporate bling?

When La Soirée’s artistic director Brett Haylock walked out of this year’s Olivier Awards with the prize for the year’s Best Entertainment And Family, there were more than a few eyebrows raised — especially as his cabaret bonanza is not exactly a family show.

Due to its intrinsically adult nature, cabaret is a revolution that cannot be televised. And nor should it be — like some other grownup activities, it is best experienced in the flesh, preferably in company and in dark, intimate surroundings such as La Soirée’s swanky Spiegeltent.

Rising from the ashes of La Clique, La Soirée was founded in London in 2010 and has gone on to become a sexy, spectacular and (at least, for fans of variety) very special show. It determinedly eschews the spangly hijinks of Cirque du Soleil in favour of a spit-and-sawdust vibe and all to the good: while East End music halls are on the way back, it will be some time before any permanent London venue provides the high-quality kaleidoscope of delights seen here.

Haylock’s admirable ability to blend new acts and perennial favourites into a constantly changing roster of superstars has not failed him and his latest troupe is as good as it has ever been. Those who stopped to gawk at the acts in Covent Garden in recent years or have been to La Soirée before will recognise some of the faces; the English Gents are back, as are supreme vaudevillians Mooky, Asher Treleaven and Mario, Queen Of The Circus.

This is a show which runs the full gamut from the spectacular to the surreal. Melanie Chy mounts the stage with her BFG of a Harley Davidson before using it as a hand-balancing platform. At the other extreme, Captain Frodo is the hilarious freakshow your mother warned you about, a double-jointed gag machine who can somehow simultaneously horrify and edify.

Those Australian acrobats The English Gents took on their name before ever having visited Blighty and are now the show’s lynchpins. Looking like a pair of socks filled with walnuts (and particularly gnarly walnuts at that), the muscly duo of Denis Lock and Hamish McCann are incredible to watch whether performing individually or together. McCann’s astounding “walking” through the air during his iconic Singin’ In The Rain pole act and Lock’s highly emotive bubble act are reminders of cabaret’s evergreen power to awe and inspire. Welcome back, La Soirée, you gorgeous beast.

La Soirée continues at the Spiegeltent until 17 January 2016. Tickets are £15-£67.50. More information can be found on the Southbank Centre website. Londonist attended on a complimentary press ticket.

Last Updated 25 November 2015