La Soiree (Strut & Fret and La Soiree Australia), Palais des Glaces Spiegeltent, The Pleasure Garden, Northbridge

Aerial gymnast David O'mer as Bath Boy. Photo: Simon-Pierre Gingras

Aerial gymnast David O’mer as Bath Boy. Photo: Simon-Pierre Gingras

On Thursday nights the Ministry and I usually go to ballroom dancing lessons, so in the tradition of all true anal retentives I was reluctant to change my routine for the opening night of international circus La Soiree‘s Perth debut this week.

As we entered the surrounding Pleasure Garden, set up at Russell Square in Northbridge for Fringe World, I felt hot, tired, grumpy, infinitely sober and not at all sure I had made the right call.

As I squished stickily into my ringside seat, I looked at the stage, which had to be about 2m in diameter, and wondered how anyone could conduct a circus on it, let alone a troupe whose rude and risky mix of vaudeville and circus acts had thrilled sell-out crowds across the globe. But in a nod to the original Cabaret itself, the besuited MC greeted us and told us to leave our troubles at the door – and I didn’t need to be told twice.

Anticipation was running high in the circular spiegeltent, its velvet, wood and stained-glass interior a work of art in itself. The Ministry was overjoyed to find a bar inside and immediately set to work on it before we commenced leaning back with the rest of the audience, biting our knuckles as we waited for some particularly death-defying act to go horribly wrong – which of course it never did.

This tiny stage was more than enough room for the acts, which ranged from the eye-wateringly vulgar and titillating, leaving us roaring with helpless laughter, to the beautiful and sensual, which we gazed at with slack-jawed amazement. The excited babble from the crowd in each brief break told me we were not the only ones amazed by what we were seeing.

I spent most of this show grinning like a little kid, unbelieving at the displays of strength, agility and skill unfolding before me and truly, the performers themselves, hailing from Sweden to Canada to Las Vegas, seemed as though they were having almost as much fun as I was – look, if a circus doesn’t make you want to run away and join the circus, it’s probably not doing it right.

Don’t take your grandma to this; possibly take your teenage niece or nephew if they’re mature and their parents permissive, and you want to win their admiration forever; definitely take your partner (prepare for both of you to feel a little inadequate afterwards).

Above all, make sure YOU see it. Go on a weekend, leave the car at home and enjoy the Pleasure Garden before the show.

La Soiree runs until February 22.

More info at fringeworld.com.au

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