At the opening night performance of La Soirée, the cabaret-meets-circus act gracing the 2012 Brisbane Festival, the audience's anticipation of this world-renowned act creates a buzzing, heady atmosphere long before the show itself starts.
The show begins with an act called 'The Two English Gents', who, with a mixture of Charlie Chaplin-esque comedy and astounding feats of strength, do more than warm the crowd. Agility and raw power come together with perfect comic timing in this piece, and that's only the beginning.
No sooner has the woman beside me understood what kind of show this is and yelled 'take it all off' than they have, stripping down to Union Jack patterned briefs and relishing the appreciative whoops that don't stop coming from the crowd. From this point in the show, the jaws drop and don't meet their upper halves for the rest of the evening.
The audience is in heaven as beautiful women and men take to the trapeze, the hula hoop and the pole with stunning skill and sensuality. The inimitable Ursula Martinez emerges to perform her signature striptease, aided by a cheekily disappearing hanky, then Australian performer Jess Love works all her cute charm during a hula-hoop extravaganza. Captain Frodo, or the "amazing rubber man", provides comic relief with his squirm-inducing elasticity as he works his body through not one but two tennis racquets.
La Soirée is packed with acts designed to thrill, tease and titillate, all while maintaining a classiness and self deprecating humour that is just enough to keep the audience connected to reality. When the show ends, it is fair to say nearly everyone would be happy to go another full round. We file out reluctantly, the events inside the Spiegeltent already seeming dreamlike and unexplainable.
La Soirée is sure to be a Brisbane Festival highlight for 2012, if not for the total year. With some nights already sold out, and the remaining tickets bound to go quickly, it is definitely one to add to the Festival itinerary. In short, it would be criminal to deprive yourself of experiencing such a show as La Soirée.
Brisbane Festival Presents
Dates: 8 - 29 September, 2012
Venue: The Courier-Mail Spiegeltent, Cultural Forecourt, South Bank