Mario (Clarke McFarlane) in La Soiree. Photo: Daniel Boud
The Studio, Sydney Opera House, January 15
Until March 10
La Soiree is the theatrical equivalent of being lashed to the front of a mardi gras float that is trying to force a Ringling Brothers circus caravan off the road and into a deep ravine.
One of four Spiegeltent shows currently playing in Sydney, in lesser hands its only point of difference might have been that some of its acts appeared last summer (and in various Sydney Festival incarnations before that as part of La Clique). But it's also unique in that it is the only one of the four that isn't performed in an actual Spiegeltent.
But with the lights down and through thick haze, the Opera House Studio bears an uncanny resemblance to those timbered and mirrored wonders, nowhere moreso than its bum-numbing seats.
When perennial contortion act Captain Frodo (tennis racquet guy) perches precariously atop an uncomfortable looking tin can (that is itself perched atop a paint tin, atop a bigger paint tin, atop a couple of larger rubbish bins), it's hard not to shift your weight (again) and think, "meh".
The same could not be said for the evening enjoyed by audience member "Bree, from Muswellbrook". Invited on stage by the show's ringleader Mario "Queen of the Circus", she found herself in a leatherman cap astride his shoulders while he rode a unicycle.
Earlier, the juggling, joking, crowd-surfing Mario (Clarke McFarlane) got things off to a fast-paced start that rarely faltered. The line-up will vary over the extended season but if you've always wanted to see a man in heels on a pogo stick juggle knives, you could be in luck.
Other highlights included the acrobatic skills of The English Gents (Denis Lock and Hamish McCann), the deranged Riverdance of newcomers Up & Over it (Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding) and the crowd reaction to David O'Mer (bath boy).
If Cantina, inside the Sydney Festival's Spiegeltent, is a neat shot of whiskey, La Soiree is something with a little umbrella in it. Good fun.