Forget pantomime, spurn West End musicals, turn your back on Christmas choirs – if you want glorious festive entertainment, book tickets for La Soirée.
The only downside (upside?) is that you won’t be taking the children. In a gorgeous Spiegeltent – all red plush and shiny wood and multi-coloured glass – a peerless ensemble of cabaret and circus performers present act after act of enormous skill and delicious mischief. To describe them in any detail is to spoil the great pleasure of being endlessly surprised. Suffice to say, you will not have seen trapeze, or clowning, or magic or pole-dancing done like this before.
The performers present a new envisioning of traditional skills, then season their dextrous physical displays with cheeky or downright filthy humour that has you spluttering into your drink. Sexual jokes are delivered in novel ways and with real style; the glee of taboo-breaking bonds the crowd in a complicity of grown-ups who know about such things, but seldom hear or see them expressed so boldly and with such wit.
Some characters are beautiful physical specimens – take a bow, The English Gents strongman act – others are freakish, like weirdly bendy nerd Jonathan Burns. Then there’s the singing clown, Puddles, who brings a moving poise and exquisite melancholy to proceedings, and the hilarious and multi-talented Ursula Martinez who has ‘bad girl’ written through her like a stick of rock. Other human marvels join them. The cast is international, and this and their great range of abilities make the bill of fare comprehensive and richly textured. With pumping pop music throughout, the show is a sensual extravaganza that also, given the warmth of the performers, feels friendly, even intimate.
Ten years since the debut of a version of this show at the Edinburgh Festival, this much travelled and universally enjoyed troupe are back at base in London. Grab a takeaway bite from the Southbank’s Christmas market, then hit the Spiegeltent bar, take your seats and prepare to be ravished.