Saturday, 22 November 2014

La Soiree at the Spiegeltent, Southbank

On Thursday we went to see circus fit for the 21st century and it was good. And rude. With lots of flesh on display. And laughter. And pingpong balls. And a small red handkerchief.

Yes, we went to see the La Soiree troupe at the Spiegeltent beside the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank and it's as far from a  'tent' as you can imagine. Acrobats, contortionists, hula-hoop girl, juggling, strong men, pole dancing and who knows what else. And none of it is what you might expect. Patriotic gentlemen in Union Jack underpants and a naked lady from Croydon (via Spain, obv). What on earth is going on here?

Sitting only a couple of yards from the small stage-in-the-round meant we had a great view of the shenanigans and we had variations on traditional circus/cabaret acts as well as cabaret delivered in a totally different way. I cite the Blue Bunny as an example of the latter, a tall middle aged bloke in a blue latex bodysuit skipping round the place in high heels bursting balloons. I *like* Scotty The Blue Bunny (but I'd need to lose some of the tum before trying to emulate him in latex).

Jess Love was great as hula-hoop girl, keeping the hoops going with different parts of her body while she performed acrobatics galore. And she was fun in her joint show with Ursula Martinez and the gender and clothes swapping duo who ended up all but naked. By then, of course, we'd already had the demote teasing from a grey suited Ursula and her little red handkerchief. Each time she performed her disappearing handkerchief trick an item of clothing vanished until she was naked and then she did the trick again… where could the handkerchief possibly be…? I shall never look at a little red handkerchief in the same way again.

I liked David and Fofo with their ping-pong balls flashing between their mouths while they performed amazing acrobatics and another duo, Saulo and Anna, flying round the stage in acrobatic passion with their moving pole to clamber around. Another highlight was the comedic juggling of Marcus Monroe who started by juggling clubs and then switched to knives - ouch! There was also the rather naughty 'sexual gentleman' Asher Treleaven and his risqué tales.

They were all great fun and incredibly entertaining. I sat for most of the time with my mouth open in wonder and a stupid smile on my face - how on earth do they do *that*? and how do they do *that*? and *that's* just not possible… I even had Jonathan Burns throw his underpants at me after he'd taken them off without removing his shorts.

The true highlight was The English Gents in their pinstripe suits and bowler hats getting up to all sorts of strongman antics and acrobatics galore. And yes, it's them on the poster for the show with both gents in their Union Jack pants and Denis Lock holding up Hamish McCann with one arm. It's a mix of a strong man act with impossible acrobatics thrown in for good measure. Might I say 'wow'?

And Hamish came back in a solo act to close the show with his version of 'Singin' In The Rain' and using the lamppost for his very own pole dance, holding himself out horizontally from half way up the pole in an astonish show of strength. To repeat myself, how on earth does he manage to do *that*?

There are other acts that are part of the La Soiree troupe but they don't all come on every night. And even those that do appear have different acts so you're unlikely to see the same show twice. I like that. Because I *am* going back! It was such fun and a great way to spend an evening. This is fabulous circus-cabaret, but not as you've seen it before. 

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