Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
All the glitz & glamour, all the skill, none of the animals
When I was a little boy I loved going to the circus. The clowns, the pretty ladies standing on the backs of horses, daring hire-wire trapeze artists, the lions, tigers and elephants as well as the dogs walking on their hind legs, the candy floss, the hot buttered sugared, multi-hued popcorn, I loved it all indiscriminately.
Later, as I grew up and began to realise what those poor animals went through I liked it less and less and by about twelve would have nothing to do with any circus that had any kind of animals or menagerie attached.
Edith Speigletent (Photograph courtesy of Fringe World)
Much, much, later, well into my fifties I was lured to a circus that had no animals bar humans and I found that at the first chord of Entry of the Gladiators that old excited at the pit of the stomach feeling was back.
This is the feeling that La Soiree engenders - eager, anticipatory excitement. It's pure theatre combining circus, burlesque, sideshow and broad comedy - sometimes very broad. This is, very definitely, an adult show.
Acantha Long (Photograph by Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)
This is La Soiree's third year at Perth's Fringe and I have heard some criticism that it draws audiences away from the smaller, lesser-known shows.
Personally, and this is just a private opinion based on thirty years as a critic, this is bollocks. What La Soiree does by being so good is draw people in who might never go to any Fringe Show and encourage them to sample others.
Captain Frodo (Photograph by P Upton)
That, after all, is why the ticket prices are so low - to encourage audiences to treat the Festival as a tapas menu, a nibble here, a snack there and broaden the tasters' horizons.
The reason La Soiree is so incredibly successful is simple - they get the best possible acts of acrobats, contortionists, singers, magicians and so on, stir well with humour and a very large dollop of professionalism and present them in the best possible light.
Leo and Ursula (Photograph courtesy La Soiree)
The acts this time were a mix of the comfortingly familiar (although 'comfortable' is not the word to use about Captain Frodo) and new - singer Acantha Long with her voice that could raise the dead and make them dance, for example, and local girl Samantha Smith, elegant and gorgeous on the aerial hoop, twisting and turning artistically and breathtakingly above our heads.
Satya Bella (Photograph by Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)
With some acts you may think 'If I was young and fit and limber, if I trained eight hours a day for seven years, I could do that.' This is NEVER true of a La Soiree act - if fact I'm not entirely convinced they're all human.
Some of the acts defy description - Scotty the Blue Bunny, for instance, performed three times. Firstly he talked and took off his ears. Secondly he ate a carrot and for the finale he burst a balloon, while being incredibly funny with a slight overtone of pathos.
But don't bother to read reviews, don't waste time, book now and see why La Soiree is pure entertainment magic.
La Soiree runs at The Edith Spiegeltent, Cathedral Square, Hay Street Perth until the 26th February. Performance times vary.
Tickets cost from $36 upwards and are available on the Fringe World website here.
Warnings: Coarse language, sexual references and nudity. Over eighteen years of age only.