Forget pantomimes and Christmassy tales. Award-winning circus and cabaret show La Soirée is the perfect tonic for the festive season – and there isn’t a Santa hat in sight.
This sexy, cheeky, spectacular show is strictly adults-only, although this year there’s also a kiddie-friendly matinee, La Petite Soirée, playing on Saturday afternoons and throughout the Christmas holidays.
The grownup version brings together a dazzling array of circus and cabaret acts from around the globe and closer to home, beginning with mischievous Montreal puppeteers André-Anne Le Blanc and Stephen Quinlan who transform a bundle of rags into a sultry soul singer.
Cabaret Decadanse: André-Anne Le Blanc and Stephen Quinlan; pictured above: Rajesh Amrale performs the ancient art of Mallakhamb
The acrobatics range from sultry hula-hooping to genuinely nail-biting. First up were beefy, beaming Mumbai acrobats Rajesh Amrale and Rajesh Mudki who demonstrated the traditional Indian sport of mallakhamb – a kind of aerial yoga performed with the help of a pole (pictured above).
Long-haired audience members will wince at self-taught gymnast Fancy Chance who spins like a top while dangling by her locks. But most agonising to watch were the dapper Chilly Brothers, who earned their circus stripes in Canada. One acts as a human trapeze, while the other soars and spins through the air blindfolded.
Not all the acts were flawless but occasional slips were neatly patched over.
Daredevil Chicken Club: Anne Goldman and Jonathan Taylor (photos by Brinkhoff Mogenburg)
Returning cabaret stars include Daredevil Chicken Club, a hilarious act from Vegas who do revolting things with bananas. Equally brilliant is Amy G who combines roller skates, a stonking voice and killer comic-timing. She’s also a virtuoso at the kazoo – and not with her mouth.
New arrivals Leon Fagbemi and LJ Marles also demonstrate exquisite timing and nimble footwork doing a risqué dance in nothing but white towels.
La Soirées’s new home is the spruced up Aldwych Theatre, which isn’t as atmospheric as a spiegeltent but does boast the nicest loos in the West End. A word of warning if you opt for the pricier ringside seats: a couple of the acts involve audience participation.
This is the most fun you’ll have in Theatreland this December. Better still, book tickets for January to dispel the new year blues.
La Soirée is at Aldwych Theatre until 3 February 2018
Book tickets for La Soiree from Radio Times Box Office