The Edith Spiegeltent (for Fringe Festival)
Thursday, February 2, 2017
I was a La Soiree virgin, and full of fanciful hopes and notions of what was in store. I’ve seen things, man. I’ve seen amazing shows from all around the globe. I’ve also read the reviews, I’ve heard the tales, and I know how much Perth audiences love the spectacle that is Soiree. I realise now that I already had the show mapped out in my mind, act by act. All those catchphrases were spinning about my head – jaw dropping, mind blowing, and breathtaking. I was imagining Cirque du Soleil meets Absinthe and Empire. My expectations were so high, I was bound to be disappointed. But only a little.
We were seated ringside, so close we actually felt the need to duck to avoid being hit by whirling performers, left the show covered in confetti, could almost taste the sweat, and were predominantly blown away by the multiple acts, running the gamut from glamorously sublime to ridiculously slapstick. For the most part it was, as everyone attests, amazing.
Openers The English Gents dazzled with feats of balance and sexually charged acrobatics that made the mind boggle at the wonders of the human body. Hamish McCann and Leon Fagbemi are nothing short of phenomenal. There were tricks up their posh Brit-inspired sleeves and shorts that have never broken minds before. Double splits by two hot boys in short shorts? Oh yes please. Looking around the audience, we were not alone in bewildered wonderment. Things that make you go hhhhnnnffffggghhhhhhh.
Ursula. Oh, Ursula, you’re one of the wonders of the world. Ursula is positively smoking with steamy magnetism, as she lures you into her bewildering, beautiful, beguiling brand of sex magic. 10/10 would eagerly be her magician’s ass-istant. Another massive highlight was (predictably) the perennial favourite, camp as heck, Scotty the Blue Bunny. Every moment he bounds onto the stage in all his magnificent, spandex glory is polarising. Glancing around the audience, the joy he brings to each and every smiling face is evident.
But Captain Frodo was the star of the show, bringing much needed sideshow slapstick to an otherwise polished-to-the-point-of-being-too-shiny show. The tennis racquet contortion trick has been done before many times, but not to the incredibly poised perfection that this wonderfully freaky Nordic god brings to the stage. Chaplin-esque buffoonery abounds in the most seamless contortion display ever brought to life on a stage. Frodo is nothing short of sidesplittingly impressive, keenly aware of his power to groom the audience, and skilfully demonstrates why sideshow will always win the battle over circus in a high noon showdown. I could watch Frodo for hours, and wouldn’t even need popcorn to get me through- I’d run on the fumes of his staggering talent.
I get that Hamish McCann’s Singin’ in the Rain pole act is such a hit with audiences, I really do. He’s sex on a pole. But it’s nothing you couldn’t see at the Voodoo Lounge any night of the week. If he tickles your bits, try out a local strip club, unless it’s that whole undressed lady thing that scares you.
And can we just talk about Brett Pfister for a moment? That man is the sexiest, most sensual lyra act ever known to man or womankind. He’s the circus equivalent of Viagra. He is sensual, effortless, and unique. He is, quite frankly, sex in the air, and we want more. Please. Everywhere.
Brett’s choice of music was the only letdown in his spot, and his music wasn’t the only problematic musical choice. There were so many moments that could have been vastly improved by alternative options. Leo and Ursula, for one. Their high rolling, rollerskating performance would feel a lot less naff and far more impressive with some changes, such as modern musical choices, a change from the 80’s inspired costuming, and some genuine enjoyment of their art, as opposed to the over-stylised showmanship and plastered grins. Have some fun with it, guys! Be cheeky with it. We would all enjoy it with you.
Unfortunately, and I know this won’t be a popular opinion by any stretch, overall the show feels very choreographed and in need of a facelift. Maybe just a little Botox. Behind the exuberance of the performers is a shade of boredom – they’ve done this so many times, and seem to be yearning for a challenge and a change. For a performer to not feel able to express themselves in any other way than the same routine for months or years on end is unfortunate and a waste. A little freedom to create and play with their art, to have some fun with it, would go a long way to this being more than just a visual spectacle. It would be art in its finest form.
La Soiree is pretty and a perfect gateway drug to Fringe goodness. But don’t limit yourself, Perth – there is so much more to Fringe, and for a third of the price you can see a number of shows that will open your mind to the arts in all their splendour. Be open to wonder- that’s what Fringe is all about.
La Soiree runs at The Edith Spiegeltent, Cathedral Square on Tuesdays to Thursdays at 8pm, then on Fridays to Sundays at 7pm, with additional 9:30pm shows available on Fridays and Saturdays. Season ends Sunday February 26, 2017.