La Soirée, like its award-winning, impossible-to-get-a-ticket-to predecessor La Clique, brings a heady mix of circus, cabaret, vaudeville and burlesque to the stage for the Melbourne Festival.
Away from its origins as a Spiegeltent show, it’s hard to imagine a better venue than Melbourne’s Forum Theatre: the slightly decaying grandeur and illusion of an open air Roman venue, flanked by statues in varying states of undress.
Presented on and around a tiny circular stage, everyone gets close to the action -particularly if you’re in one of the half-dozen rows of ringside seating! The ‘Posh’ table seating and booths give a slightly more detached but still intimate view of the show.
And what a show it is! Funny, bawdy, queer, cringe-inducing and awe-inspiring – and that’s just Le Gateau Chocolate, the plus-sized lycra-clad baritone who manages to be both outrageous in his opening act number and moving in the stripped-back simplicity of his return for the second act.
Speaking of stripped-back, we also experience Ursula Martinez and her red hanky in all their glory. And of course, there is ‘bath boy’ David O’Mer, getting himself and the audience a little wet, and Hamish McCann, with a pretty sexy version of Gene Kelly’s swinging on a lamppost in Singin’ in the Rain.
A comic highlight is former Cirque du Soleil clown Mooky, in a camp homage to wannabe stage divas, Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, with a hapless and not-so-willing co-star.
There are plenty more acts over the two hours, including a rotating roster of guest performers. Watching the reactions on the faces of the audience is almost as entertaining as the acts themselves.
With its roots in Australia, this in an international extravaganza that has taken the world by storm; don’t miss your change to see it in Melbourne. With a nod to its late-night post-event festival origins, also don’t miss Club Soirée this Sunday night, a free 10pm show at the Festival Hub on the banks of the Yarra.