La Soiree has long been a subversive delight, pitching camp (and sometimes a Spiegeltent) in locations around London, with appearances in venues that have also included the Hippodrome (in the shabbier days before it was converted into a casino) and the Roundhouse. But now they're committing their most brilliant and subversive act yet, taking over a West End theatre for the first time -- and not just any theatre, but the storied Aldwych, once London home to no less than the RSC, and also newly refurbished to a sparkling sumptuousness, too.
It's a complete masterstroke, and it is pulled off brilliantly to retain the show's close-up intimacy. The front stalls have been cleared away and cabaret seating arranged around the usual tiny circular platform that is the main playing area. More seating extends onto what is usually the stage, but the forestage is also used for the show's most impressive set piece this year, The Chilly Brothers, who need an elaborate rigging for their astonishing balancing and trapeze-like act which involves one swinging and somersaulting out of the arms of the other and being caught again.
It is gobsmacking. But so is the entire, superbly structured show which combines light and shade, music and movement in constantly changing colours and textures. While La Soiree has long had some regular acts who've become popular staples, most of this year's show was brand new to me. Yes, I missed The English Gents, Captain Frodo, Ursula Martinez and Le Gateau Chocolat, but there are fresh comic and cosmic wonders instead.
Some hilarious (and just a tiny bit gross) comic interactions are offered by Daredevil Chicken, a lounge act from Vegas hell; while homegrown talent LJ Marles does breathtaking wonders with aerial tension straps, and Fancy Chance hangs from just her hair. Michele Clark does spellbinding things with hula-hoops; La Serviette offers a rousing male striptease; and Amy G offers a new take on risqué music playing.
I don't want to spoil the surprises by describing the show too fully; it's a show you want to discover for yourself. But even as a long-time La Soiree fan, who has seen the show on three continents and in multiple venues, it constantly surprises me. So there's plenty of reasons to return again and again.
La Soiree Tickets are available now.