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La Soirée at the Roundhouse

Published 29 November 2011

La Soirée is back at the Roundhouse for its third London run in as many years. After Official London Theatre’s Matthew Amer attempted to learn the tricks of the trade with the cast, Charlotte Marshall attended the opening night to see if she could discover the secrets of creating a successful circus show.

Firstly, you must find a good compere. In La Soirée the man for the job is Mario Queen of the Circus, with his unforgiving cropped leather jacket, love of Queen songs and provocative banter. If you thought the skill of juggling had its limitations, your mind will boggle when Mario whips his balls out.

Secondly, you need as many acrobats as you can squeeze, contort and flip into the ring. La Soirée has a host of old favourites and newcomers to fill this quota. There is the astonishingly talented Hamish McCann who proves there’s more to pole dancing then taking your clothes off – although he does do that too – with a street lamp for a pole and Singin’ In The Rain for inspiration.

Newcomers Chris and Iris take little and large to the extreme with gentle giant Chris throwing around the pint-sized Iris like a ragdoll, while the hypnotic Yulia Pykhtina takes contortion to another level as she twists herself into a variety of unnatural positions while making hula-hooping look effortlessly graceful.

Thirdly, in order to whip the crowd into a whooping, wolf-whistling frenzy, La Soirée offers more than a small dose of gratuitous nudity. Giving the show its famous sex appeal this year are Hugo Desmarais and Katherine Arnold who spin above the audience in a cage like a sexy Christmas decoration – with Desmarais selflessly reducing any health and safety risks by removing any loose clothing for the act – and the more tongue-in-cheek Denis Lock who strips down to his pants in the name of art. Did I mention McCann’s pole dancing?

Lastly there must be comedy and, if you’re La Soirée, a drag queen who can sing opera, wear false eyelashes that are a feat of engineering and be spun around in a glittering catsuit like a human mirror ball. But with an ever-changing cast of the most wonderful misfits and talented oddities, you never know what secrets you might discover on your trip to the bizarre.

CM

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