Performance review: L’Hôtel

Luxuriate in this decadent immersive world of cabaret, circus and burlesque.

 L’Hôtel is a sensual and exhilarating night out, blending cabaret, burlesque and circus into an experience that rewards the senses in a very visceral way. 

Most successful is the wonderful attention to detail in this immersive trip to an exotic French hotel filled with alluring staff and sinuous chanteuses. The experience immediately begins to seduce, as you are welcomed at the door and shown to your table by your poetic proprietor Martelle Hammer and her smiling team of gracious hosts. Then champagne and nibbles are served as the artists begin to weave an intriguing ambience around you.  

Your wait staff are accomplished performers and integrate crisp dance and character moments as they whirl around, taking further drink orders at the same time. It’s a hypnotic start and only gets better and better as the headline acts morph out of various hotel personnel and take a moment to shine in the spotlight, albeit frequently many feet into the air. 

There’s a definite sense of mischief twinkling in their eyes, but the French style remains classy throughout, and while there is sensuality aplenty, audiences are more often gasping at the physical or vocal prowess of the performers than any of the occasionally revealing costuming. 

The music for this show under the direction of Joe Accaria is very successful, deliciously passionate and moving. Musicians Lindsay Page and Hinano Fujisaki show their versatility on a variety of instruments as vocalists Caroline Nin and Brendan Maclean deliver the wrenching heartfelt songs in both French and English.

Their extraordinary voices anchor the evening and would be at home on any stage in the world. Maclean’s character is riveting, always focused and slightly manic, while Nin sails through the evening with a diva’s elegance.  

Read: Circus review: GODZ

Woven between and around the music, the burlesque and circus headliners use their exceptional talents to remind us just how incredible the human body can be. Juggler Florian Brooks opens with a deft and impish style and is followed by Bri Emrich and CJ Shuttleworth’s mesmerising bathtub routine.

Bentley Rebel knows more things to do with a pole than many of us dream possible, and we sail breathtakingly into the air courtesy of the sinuous strength of Masha Terentieva and Beau Sargent. Both are beautiful and sensual, with gorgeous fluid routines. 

But even while each moment is special, it is the overarching experience of the work directed by Helpmann award winner Craig Ilott and his creative team that is to be most applauded. The audience is transported to another world, and it is quite immersive while never feeling threatening or requiring participation. You are simply welcomed, and the confident style embraces you completely. 

It is a very satisfying, grown-up night out, so leave the kids at home, throw on your most stylish outfit, and visit an intriguing French hotel – courtesy of the Sydney Opera House. 

The Studio, Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW
Director: Craig Ilott
Choreographer: Lucas Newland
Music Director: Joe Accaria 
Set Design: Renier Jansen van Vuuren and Stu Couzens
With Brendan Maclean, Caroline Nin, Masha Terentieva, Florian Brooks, Beau Sargent, Bri Emrich, CJ Shuttleworth, Bentley Rebel, Martelle Hammer
Tickets: $89 for show, $165 for food and beverage package

L’Hôtel will be performed until 13 November 2022.

Dennis Clements is a NIDA Acting graduate and has a BA focused on Literature, Theatre and Journalism. He won the Theatre prize in his graduation year from Curtin University in WA. He has extensive leading role performance credits in both professional and community based companies, and has directed numerous productions for Bankstown Theatre Company and Ashfield Musical society. He is a registered Marriage Celebrant if you want to get hitched, and has also reviewed for Australian Stage online theatre magazine for several years.