If you’ve not been to see a production of La Soiree in the three years of it being hosted at Perth’s Fringe World, you truly have been missing out on some spectacular entertainment.
Always a favourite on the Fringe calendar, La Soiree takes a host of popular entertainment genres and mashes these in the most magnificent manner. Sometimes throwing manners (and morals) right out the window!
Burlesque blends into blatant striptease, realist acrobatics become surrealist sports, and the line between attention-grabbing cabaret and camp slapstick stretches thinner than a Dada Master’s moustache.
This year’s show starts with a power-packed performance by New Orleans singer Acantha Lang – a towering diva who is as toned in form – and fit in style – as she is in vocal delivery. Dressed in top hat, PVC skirt and heels for days, Lang is like all of music’s greatest female artists rolled into one: there’s some Aretha in there, a little Tina Turner, and a lot of Donna Summer. Suffice to say, her live performance is nothing short of sensational.
Next up on stage is Norwegian contortionist ‘Captain Frodo’, who has appeared at every Fringe since La Soiree’s debut in Perth. While not exactly my cup of tea – I get very uncomfortable watching a man squeeze himself through the hole of a ten-inch tennis racket – Frodo remains a favourite with Fringe audiences.
Then, just when you think you’ve seen every trick with a hula-hoop, performer Satya Bella takes things to a phenomenal level, delivering a fantastically choreographed show twirling half a dozen hoops that dazzle the audience as their built-in disco lights spin faster and faster.
Which brings me to the next artist: callisthenics queen Valerie Murzak. Another fresh act to the La Soiree stage, Murzak manages to straddle and exercise on a giant spinning mirror-ball better than many an Olympic gymnast can perform on a horse.
In between all the acrobatics and body-twisting amazement are acts of your more slapstick comedy variety, such as ‘Scotty the Blue Bunny’, who, dressed in a tight Lycra bodysuit and great big rabbit ears, is like watching the offspring of Lana Alana (sadly not appearing at this year’s Fringe) and the scary bunny out of Donnie Darko. He does, however, leave you in stitches.
So too do Vegas-bred duo Daredevil Chicken who come across like a leftover swinger couple of the late ’70s, hooked on a diet of Barry Manilow, bad-taste wardrobe and over-ripe bananas. In one segment of their act, one half (Anne Goldmann) continues to bite the entirety of three bananas, spitting these out to her partner (Jonathan Taylor) who somehow (somehow!) manages to fit the whole lot into his gob. Whether he is very fast at swallowing fruit or has one of the world’s biggest mouths – literally – it’s a feat that’s as much awe-inspiring as it is, well, disgustingly hilarious.
The couple get some stiff competition when high-speed skating duo Leo & Ursula take to the tiny stage to deliver their death-defying dance act. Given that the stage is only a couple of metres length in diameter, it’s fairly scary watching these two twirl around one another at lightening speed.
Indeed, it’s difficult to pick favourite acts in this fast-paced, quick-witted, brilliantly choreographed series of professional circus artistry that is La Soiree because, quite simply, it’s all very bloody good. And for the most part, very bloody funny.
La Soiree is obviously French in name but the show is constantly evolving as an event that is quintessentially multicultural, taking everything from low-brow Vegas acts to high-brow acrobatics, soft porn to esoteric comedy, and blending these into one very impressive production: sure to appeal to audiences of all ages. Just be sure to cover the kids’ eyes when Daredevil Chicken and stripper Lily Martinez take to the stage. Even I had to cover my eyes for some of that cheeky stuff. Antonino Tati
La Soiree is on at Perth Fringe World’s Edith Spiegeltent until February 26. Tickets start at $35 for standing and other prices for various seating options. For session times, visit www.fringeworld.com.au.