La Soirée

La Soirée continues to capture audience at this year's Fringe World Festival.
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Photo by Olivia Rutherford.

The success of last year’s season inspired the Perth Fringe powers-that-be to get La Soirée here again, and no wonder! The 2015 season had to be extended by an extra two weeks, with not an empty seat to be found in the enormous Speigeltent.

This year is shaping up the same, as many audience members from last year have become fans, and have no doubt told their friends just how good this troupe is. ‘Troupe’ is not, perhaps, the right word, for there are many performers, not all of whom will appear on any given night. Given the strenuous nature of some of the acts, that’s not surprising.

On opening night, the first-up act was Miss Frisky, a songstress with a bent for comedy. Her website tells us ‘Frisky sings. Frisky hosts. Frisky directs. Frisky acts. Frisky writes. Frisky is Laura Corcoran’. A fine list of talents indeed, and having seen her perform I am prepared to vouch for the veracity of her claims. Except the Laura Corcoran bit. She could be Mary Smith or Jenny Jones, yet she would still be Miss Frisky. The name suits her to a T. You can find Miss Frisky on Facebook as Felicity Fitz-Frisky.

Miss Frisky has a partner, known only as Mannish. Playing straight man (no pun intended) to such a madcap, unpredictable lady must be very testing. Yet they make a fine team, and their zany carryings-on kept the audience well and truly entranced.

Aerial artist Bret Pfister from New York was a rare find. He has made London his base, and must spend a great deal of time practising the amazing feats he accomplishes with the hoop. ‘Hanging by the ankle from a hula-hoop’ would be found on few people’s ideal work description, but it’s obvious from Pfister’s work that he is dedicated to his craft, described as ‘aerial ballet’, and that just about sums it up. His work is brilliant.

A complete change of pace with Canadian-born Mooky Cornish. She is a rare acquisition: a female clown with a bent for slapstick. She has worked with Cirque du Soleil, which in itself tells us she must be pretty good. Pretty good? She is utterly amazing. She showed us only a few of her talents, which are listed as pianist, puppeteer, mask-maker, accordion squeezer – and chicken trainer. Chicken trainer? There must be a few stories behind that, but I can’t imagine what it might be. With a performer as zany as Mooky, anything is possible.

The entrancing Mexican lady, Yammel Rodriguez, is another aerial artist. She specialises in single-strap work but she is darned good on the hoop, too. An androgynous vibe, externalised by mesh tights, staggery high heeled boots and a cowboy hat, is part of her stage persona, contributing to the air of mystery inherent in her work.

Some of the acts are return visitors from last year. They are very welcome and are among the funniest acts we’ve seen in Perth. Captain Frodo, a Norwegian contortionist extraordinaire, can dislocate any joint in his body, squeeze his torso plus several limbs through a 10” tennis racquet. He holds a couple of world records involving sword swallowing. All this and comedy, too. What’s not to love?

Another return engagement is the screamingly funny duo, The English Gents. Their act was exactly the same as last years, and is just as entertaining on a second viewing. Denis Locke and Hamish McCann start off as smart-looking chaps in pin-striped business suits, armed with newspapers and brollies. On the miniscule performing area, barely two and half metres in diameter, they proceed to strip down to Union Jack underwear while performing a remarkable acrobatic and balancing act. Strength, grace, balance and humour all in the one double package. Jolly good stuff, chaps!

Hula hoop artist Satya Bella is a beautiful dancer who integrates anything up to half a dozen hoops into her act. Now based in the UK, Satya honed her craft at the Beijing Acrobatic School and has since performed in over 30 countries, often working with FlameOz, a fire-dancing act that has appeared in various big events, including the Paralympics closing ceremony. Her hoop work is impeccable and very lovely to watch.

For many, the incredibly funny Mario, Queen of the Circus, must have been the highlight of the evening. Alter ego of American comic Clarke Mc Farlane, ‘Mario’ is a walking, talking, Freddy Mercury tribute. He juggles, rides a unicycle and cracks jokes faster than a chef can crack eggs. McFarlane claims not to be a Queen fan himself, but there is little doubt that Mario, his alter ego, has enough love and respect for Freddy Mercury to carry the act along on wheels. A most entertaining performance.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

La Soirée

Fringe World Festival, Perth.
On until Sunday 6 March 2016

Carol Flavell Neist
About the Author
Carol Flavell Neist  has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop, and has also published poetry and Fantasy fiction. She also writes fantasy fiction as Satima Flavell, and her books can be found on Amazon and other online bookshops.