As La Soirée continues to thrill and debauch willing Londoners, I chat to the show’s long-time flexible friend, Captain Frodo.
I first saw Captain Frodo when La Clique, as it was then, first hit London town back in 2009. It was one of the most revolting, nauseating, and thrillingly hilarious things I had ever seen. The entire La Clique show popped my cherry for a whole new world of cabaret that I didn’t even know existed, let alone one that so flagrantly festooned itself in the heart of the West End. Six years on, with La Clique now La Soirée, and I’ve been screaming at friends to go every time it rolls into town.
Captain Frodo is one of La Soirée’s longest serving performers, who, like the rest of the regulars, haven’t become any less reviling or revelatory, as mentioned in my four star review. So what does he have to say about performing in a show like La Soirée as the particularly pliable cabaret prince upon a baked-bean tin throne?
You were involved in La Clique when the circus/cabaret format hit London big time in 2009, even though the show been doing festivals for five years previously. From La Clique to La Soirée, and with other shows like Briefs now a regular circuit feature, what do you think has made this particular brand of entertainment endure and become increasingly popular?
The heart and passion of the performers and creators. The feeling of genuine enthusiasm and desire to connect through this medium speaks to people today, like it did in the heyday of vaudeville and music hall. Real people crave real experiences.
What does it mean to be part of the La Soirée family?
Having been in the show for a decade – it’s scary just saying that – being part of the La Soirée family is an ongoing journey through life and the world with an amazing gang of crazy cabaret freaks. These people become closer than family, at least in the respect that you see them a heck of a lot more. We travel for about 10 months of the year. That’s a lot of travel and a lot of hanging out. You really get to know someone when you spend so much time together in such extreme conditions.
Some of you in the La Soirée family have quite “shocking” acts. Have any of you ever been shocked or taken aback by an act you’ve shared the stage with?
Not so much. I am usually in the position of being the act which is most difficult to watch. I think all my acts have an element of entertainment by unease. If you hear about my acts you might think that you don’t want to see that. But when you have seen it you are really happy and find that it was surprisingly awesome.
If you had to choose, who’s you favourite member of the La Soirée family?
Having worked intimately with Denis Lock (of English Gents fame) on his new bubble act, I have a special fondness for him. He is an absolute marvel with a dedication to his craft, and everything in life, that is unparalleled by anyone. I am proud to call him my friend.
What act would you most like to become part of the La Soirée family?
Buster Keaton, oh no, it’s a bit late for that. How about Harry Houdini?! Nah. Maybe Indiana Jones. Yeah. That WOULD be awesome!
What’s the harshest and/or most surprising reaction you’ve faced whilst performing?
One time, when I was performing at the Sydney Opera House, I saw someone asleep in the audience. After the interval, he was gone. Later it turned out he had fainted and pissed himself.
What do you think the UK circus/cabaret scene is missing, if anything?
A permanent cabaret/vaudeville venue for La Soirée in Leicester Square. Something like the Hippodrome, before the refurbishment.
Both the Southbank’s Spiegeltent and The Roundhouse are two of my favourite London venues. Which one do you prefer performing in, and why?
I must say I prefer the Spiegeltent. It is the spiritual home and the birth venue of our show. The first few years we only played in the famous Spiegeltent. As exciting as the Roundhouse is, with its enormous crowds, I am a fan of the more intimate shows. The Spiegeltent might seat half the crowd but the particular architecture makes it feel even smaller and more intimate. Like everyone can reach out and touch the performers. Which happens more regularly that you might think.
What’s Ursula Martinez’ cleaning bill for handkerchiefs like?
Not as large as you might think.
La Soirée runs at the Southbank Speigeltent, SE1 8XX, until 17 January 2016. Tickets are £15 – £67.50. To book, visit www.la-soiree.com.