Review: La Soirée, Aldwych Theatre

“This isn’t a sit-back-and-fold-your-arms kind of show”

Variety is the spice of life and it’s a taste we apparently can’t get enough of, it would seem. Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein and Mick Perrin’s La Soirée has been around in one form or another (previously called La Clique) for well over ten years and the grandeur of the venues it has played has grown from unused casinos to Spiegeltents to finally now, when it has taken up residence in the West End itself, in a reconfigured Aldwych Theatre.

La Soirée is a scrumptious smörgåsbord of entertainment, an ever-changing line-up of acrobats and daredevils and comedians and burlesque acts and so on and so forth, who ask you to put your scepticism and reserve to one side for the evening, and just have a real good time. To this end, the bar remains open throughout and if you’re anywhere near the front, then considerable audience participation is a real possibility but roll with it and you might just have the time of your life (like Warren did tonight…!)

In some ways, it is a show to be experienced rather than described. I could say that Michele Clark is amazing with her hula hoops but that could never do justice to the way in which she seems to make them float in the air, nor the way in which she turns into a human slinky by the end. And the breathtaking acrobatic feats of the sexually charged pairing of Leon Fagbemi and Klodi Dabkiewicz or the brotherly Indian duo of Rajesh Amrale and Rajesh Rao (with Mallakhamb India!) have to be seen to be believed as they display extraordinary strength and dexterity.

The evening is at its best when it has a devilish glint in its eye – Amy G’s roller-skating flamenco dancer amusingly pushes as far as she can in finding her guapo, and Daredevil Chicken’s banana-related antics are pure genius. And when it also works in a subversive twist to its flavour, as it is the muscular frames of Fagbemi and LJ Charles that are exposed in La Serviette, a witty peekaboo act with increasingly small white towels. And when a quick-change routine goes eye-poppingly wrong, again it is the gentleman whose blushes must be spared, (if he were at all interested in sparing them!)/ 

So it’s a headrush of visually stunning, often breath-takingly audacious daredevilry, that’ll also have you laughing merrily at how far they’re willing to push people, whether themselves or the audience. And the format of a multitude of short acts means that if one particular thing isn’t particularly doing it for you, then it really isn’t long until something completely different will come along. There’s even a family-friendly version – La Petite Soirée – on Saturday afternoons and during the Christmas holidays, which promises to dial down the sauciness and I would pay serious money to see kids responding to the banana act, it would be priceless! It might just be time to roll up, roll up, once again. 

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Photos: Brinkhoff Mogenberg
Booking until 3rd February

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