Having exercised their bed-testing, cocktail-sampling, staff-assessing muscles on behalf of Mr & Mrs Smith, some of our anonymous hotel reviewers have turned Smith destination spy, feeding our travel-hungry online wanderlust generator with new and inspiring travel and destination tips (see, for example, our insider guide to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, written by bona fide festival-expert and performer Chris Cox) .
Here, our tame comedian Chris Cox doffs his mind-reader’s hat to La Soirée, the big-top pop-up cabaret extravaganza currently dazzling Londoners on the South Bank with its spinning acrobats, comedic contortionists and burlesque merry-makers…
Bring out the bunting, get your best party frock on and celebrate – La Soirée has returned. What do you mean it’s never been here before? It has: you’ll know it from its old name of La Clique. It’s now La Soirée, which to be honest is almost the exact same thing as La Clique. Think of it as a cherry-picked ‘best of’ of La Clique, as that’s exactly what it is. The best of the acts, the best atmosphere, the best show in town.
After years of wowing crowds at the London Hippodrome and the Roundhouse, the stars of La Clique have returned to their own pop-up venue, the beautiful South Bank Big Top just behind the National Theatre, to bring us the decadent brilliance that is La Soirée.
Inside the intimate, cosy mirrored Big Top is a sumptuous world where the freaks come out to play, and amazement bewitches your every gaze. You’re transported to a bygone era: ornate wood, lashings of velvet, bright mirrors, stained glass and large bars push you deep into the world of La Soirée before the lights go down and the show begins… and what a show it is.
With a rotating cast of old favourites and new gems, the two-hour show zooms past as a bath boy strips off and swing around on ropes above a tub (right), two English Gents show the sort of strength the British banking system would kill for (below), Captain Frodo disgusts and delights as he contorts his body through a 10-inch tennis-racket frame and Marawa sticks on her sparkly heels and does things with hula hoops that shouldn’t be possible.
If you’ve seen the show before, you’ll know what to expect, yet one of the joys of La Soirée is that it simply doesn’t matter: these acts stand up to repeat viewing, and you’ll never know quite who you’re going to see. True – it can get a bit samey, after watching some impressive balancing on the top of a stack of chairs, we then watch something similar on a stack of cans. An odd magical clowning act really didn’t make sense, or hit the high standards La Soirée has set for itself, but with these are minor flaws.
The show is pure entertainment from start to finish, and as the champagne flows and the acts continue, you find your jaw will continue to drop at this the most exhilarating night out in London.
La Soirée is at the South Bank Big Top until 31 January 2011. Book tickets online or ring 0843 221 0999.