La Soirée Is The Perfect Antidote To 2016
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In what feels like the grimmest year since records began, La Soirée arrives like a ray of sunshine.
If anything was going to make us feel like packing up our troubles in an old kit bag and smile, smile, smile, it is this award-winning ancestor of the music hall. Just as music hall helped lifted morale a century ago, so La Soirée does now.
La Soirée returns to its birthplace for its seventh season with a bunch of new faces alongside regular performers like contortionist Captain Frodo, cheeky acrobats The English Gents and vaudevillian Ursula Martinez. The immense quality of this show is evident in the fact it won an Olivier Award for best entertainment and family ...despite it decidedly not being a family show.
The content is, at heart, no different to what was seen in the like of the recently refurbed Hoxton and Wilton’s music halls. Music, sideshow, circus and comedy were the order of the day back then and that pretty much summarises what's on offer in the beautiful Spiegeltent.
That said, there's no equivalent to asterisks and beeps here to cover the unabashed nudity and swearing; those of a sensitive disposition are advised to steer clear and make room for the rest of us. Inside the intimate Spiegeltent, this cabaret extravaganza puts enough bare flesh on display to put Soho out of business and, even when covered up, every act contains within it the possibility of a spontaneous burlesque.
So that's one way it differs to the vaudeville of old.
The cast changes from night to night but there are no duff acts. The opening night, for example, saw superb turns from singer Acantha Lang, physical comedians Daredevil Chicken, engaging juggler Olivia Porter and high-heeled trapeze artist Jarred Dewey.
Artistic director Brett Haylock and his team comb the world for the greatest and the latest and it is their sublime scouting that has given this show its freshness and appeal over the years. Guaranteed entertainment and watercooler moments galore may sound like marketing hyperbole, but it certainly describes the experience here.
Take the Croydon-born Ursula Martinez. When not singing a rousing song in pidgin Spanish extolling the breadth of the sexual spectrum and the merits of self-stimulation, she is pulling red hankies from her jacket, her bra and, as Donald Trump might allude to it, her "wherever". The latter routine has not only spawned a show called My Stories, Your Emails but has been franchised across the world.
La Soirée's Leicester Square location is also a stone's throw from a bronze statue of Charlie Chaplin, a man who made his name on the stages of London music halls before jumping ship to Hollywood. If this show had occurred in his day, he would have been in the front row of the audience, lapping up this cornucopia of global talent.
La Soirée continues until 8 January. More information can be found on the official website. Londonist attended on a complimentary press ticket.
Last Updated 21 November 2016