La Soiree, in the wonderful Spiegeltent at London’s Southbank Winter Festival, is definitely an Experience with a capital E! I honestly haven’t enjoyed myself so much in years.
The show first aired at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004 and was such a roaring success it hasn’t stopped touring since. And I can see why. A mixture of old-fashioned circus skills (without the animals) brought bang up to date. Vaudeville, jaw-dropping acrobatics, physical prowess and risqué burlesque, all delivered with a huge dash of humour, by comics and performers from around the globe. La Soiree is a sensational show.
From the moment you step into the warm and spacious Spiegeltent, resplendent in dark red drapes, you are instantly transported into a nightclub atmosphere. With reasonably priced drinks on offer in two bars and a wide range of quality food available from the Winter Festival stalls immediately outside the tent, (which you can take into the performance) you can eat and be merry at the same time.
Doors open at 7.30 and the show starts at 8pm. A tip-top-tip on the seating. It’s unreserved so a good idea to get there early, have a drink, something to eat and be ready to bag your ringside seat pretty much after the doors have opened. It’s a hugely popular show and – giving away no secrets – don’t sit on the front row if you are a shy retiring wallflower! You have been warned. You can also book seats that are set back slightly but still with a great view – termed ‘posh seats’ – with your own table complete with table service before and throughout the performance. And, it has to be said, the service from the myriad of ushers and usherettes was fast and friendly. The show opened with Puddles, the towering sad clown who has such an amazing soulful voice we thought he was miming. But no, the mellifluous voice was all his own and very beautiful it was too. The show then moved through an extraordinary variety of acts that simultaneously took your breath away because you can’t believe what you have just seen and also leave you crying with laughter. From the spandex-clad Scotty the blue bunny, the unbelievable strength and balance of the English Gents, to Ursula’s striptease act with its mischievous disappearing hankies, the show moved at a fast pace.
The daily line-up is subject to change but there are a core ‘family’ of performers who appear in most shows, as well as guest appearances from other international and local artistes. Whoever performs on the night, though, they are all world-class acts so you can be guaranteed a night of thrilling entertainment. It is the show that everyone’s raving about. But, if nudity and bawdiness doesn’t appeal this show may not be your cup of tea. I have to say, though, I spotted quite a few other Silver Traveller types thoroughly enjoying the Experience. Certainly I did. I’ll also be going back if I can get another ticket.
LA SOIREE’S SPIEGELTENT runs until Sunday 11th January For tickets: 0844 847 9910, www.southbank.co.uk/winter