I sit typing this review slumped in bed… and if it’s a good day, slumped in bed is exactly where I’ll stay!
However, a night at La Soirée – the Olivier award-winning, Edinburgh Fringe alumni of a show that’s in Hong Kong for just eight performances – was a reminder of just how amazing the human body can be… you know, when it’s not slumped in bed watching old episodes of The Apprentice and stuffing Oreos into its mouth.
A raucous blend of circus and cabaret, the show features around a dozen acts all with different specialities, from comedy to contortionism and just about everything in-between – with the overall effect being something like the Royal Variety Show as presided over by Graham Norton (now there’s a TV show idea!).
I don’t want to say too much about each act because frankly, that would spoil the fun – but be prepared to give your mouth a workout, as you’ll be oohing, ahhing, gasping and cackling so much that your brain might have difficulty processing it all. My favourite performers were probably the gravity-defying acrobatics of strapping male duo The English Gents; Hamish McCann’s breathtaking final pole act, where he appears to walk on air, is pure poetry in motion.
I also loved the smooth-talking patter of X-rated comedian Asher Treleaven – very rude but very funny. Other acts did fall flat for me, but that’s the very nature of these kind of variety shows, and the fast-pace of La Soirée means you’re never bored (or in the case of one audience member I clocked, utterly disgusted and steadfastly refusing to look at the stage) for too long.
The intimacy of La Soirée is what really makes the show though; you’re so close you can almost taste the performers’ sweat – and in the case of Berlin gymnast David O’ Mer, whose dazzling aerial gymnastics occur twisting in and out of a water-filled bathtub, you probably do! Amazingly, despite the limited staging opportunities that HKAPA’s rather small Lyric Theatre provides, there’s still some seating in the round – and being that close to the action brings a real energy to proceedings (not to mention plenty of audience participation opportunities), plus the extra thrill of seeing these eye-popping acts accomplished right under your nose, sans safety nets and barriers.
The circus seems a bit of an old-fashioned idea these days – but La Soirée wickedly succeeds at giving it a sequin-dusted, subversive shake-up… and for my money, effortlessly surpasses the po-faced acrobatics of acts like Cirque du Soleil whilst it’s at it. So if your September is in need of a dose of adults-only excitement, you know where the party’s at.
La Soirée by Lunchbox Productions is at the Lyrics Theatre, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, 16-20 September 2015. Tickets cost $395-1095 and are available via www.hkticketing.com.
La Soirée performs around the world with a rotating cast of acts; see here for all upcoming shows.
Note: I received complimentary tickets for the Opening Night of this show