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La Soiree returns to London with strapping new talent!

The world famous, award-winning and much-loved La Soirée is back in London! We’re talking high-end talent - cabaret, circus, performance - delivered with mischief, unbridled sexiness, mess, and fun. 2017 see’s the production hit the West End by storm as the exceptional cast and crew take residence at the classic Aldwych Theatre. So many of Run Riot's favourite performers have graced La Soirée stage since it began - Fancy Chance, Marawa the Amazing, Camille O’Sullivan, Frisky, Le Gateuax Chocolat, Meow Meow, Ursula Martinez, and Miss Behave (see the full cast of this years' artists here)!

There’s more! The forever evolving show is bringing new blood to the line-up! Ladies and Gentlemen - allow us to introduce you to home-grown Hackney talent LJ Marles! Here we ask him about the scene, the show, his fearless act, and London! Strap in for the ride, dear reader!

Run Riot: What excites you most about contemporary circus?
LJ Marles:
I find it exciting that it's still continuing to grow; it’s developing with artists bringing fresh new ideas into their performance, shows - and the industry as a whole. The scene is pushing the boundaries of performances in general, with contemporary circus there are no rules! It pulls in different audiences - you can reach people who might be interested in dance, theatre, or musicals. With the fringe festivals (at Jackson's Lane's Postcards Festival, Roundhouse's CircusFest, and as part of the London International Mime Festival) and Underbelly on the Southbank, audiences often attend a show expecting to see comedy, when in fact thy're being introduced to some witty and cunning circus. It’s making circus more accessible. Even in pop culture, performers like P!nk, and Helene Fischer are incorporating circus and acrobatics into their music concerts. Circus is just like any other art form and like fashion things come and go. It's really exciting to see ‘Old school traditional’ circus skills make a come back in contemporary circus shows - things like hair hanging (see Fancy Chance!) and head balancing.

La Soire is known for being a good night out – for being fun, and being entertaining. The audience come to have a good time and leave with a whole new appreciation of unusual acts.

Run Riot: How did you come to be in La Soiree?
Whilst I was studying at circus school (at the brilliant National Centre for Circus Arts in Old Street), I interviewed Brett Haylock (Creative Producer of La Soire) and David O’Mer (of Bath Boy fame) as director and performer about circus and La Soire, and from there we kept in touch! I have seen the show literally every time it comes to London, and even if I’m abroad and in the same city as the show I go see it too. In NYC I saw it multiple times! There had been talks about me taking part in a season but the timings didn’t work out - but this year they did!

It’s nice to finally be on that infamous red stage after seeing it so many times over the years and have so many friends do it. I remember the feeling of wonder and awe when I first saw the show and wanting to be a part of it. I'd be chuffed to bits if I could give someone out there in the audience that same feeling. I’ve performed a lot overseas but it’s always more special to play in my hometown. Being on a Westend stage is something I never expected to do as I can’t sing to save my life, so I’m grateful to have this opportunity.

Run Riot: Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I start by making sure I’ve visited the little boys room, before I get into costume. I like to prepare by making sure I’m warmed up and ready while listening to my performance music over, and over, and over again. And I always make sure I’ve got far too much rosin on my hands and feet; this helps me with my grip and stops me slipping on the straps.

In some shows I’ve developed a special handshake with other performers which we do before every show for good luck. Once I’ve got a handshake with someone, I always make sure to do it – just in case!

Run Riot: You specialise in aerial straps - can you tell us about your act for La Soire?
J: My act is a different take on aerial straps, by the very fact that I’ve taken aerial straps and attached them to the floor. So I coined the term 'Tension Straps'.

Attaching them to the floor restricts all of the skills you can do with a normal pair of straps, but it also opens up a whole new world of tricks, dynamics, relationship and movement. As far as I’m aware I’m the only person who performs with straps in this way. So, with my act audiences won't know what to expect - they'll see something they’ve never seen before! It’s a mixture between Chinese pole, pole dancing, rope and straps.

With most aerial straps it’s mainly upper body strength that’s needed but with my Tension Straps routine I’m able to use full body strength and flexibility. Due to the versatility and the different ways I can use them I’m able to get up close, above the audience.

Run Riot: Of all the other acts - which would you say are the most cheeky, saucy and twisted?
One of my favourites is Daredevil Chicken and their banana skit. It’s gross, naughty but highly entertaining at the same time. You want to look away but you just can’t! I was so excited to see them in La Soire in London last year, after seeing them previously in New York. Now I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with them. Hopefully they don’t make a mess!
Run Riot: As a Londoner - where are your favourite places to experience circus?
Southbank Centre and any of their festivals; Underbelly - they have great shows! I also love the Circus restaurant on Endel Street in Covent Garden, and Café de Paris in Leicester Square. Plus, The Aeronaut in Acton is reopening later this month which I am so happy about. It’s like a pub-come-cabaret venue – you get to see really great circus in a really intimate space!

LJ Marles @Freeze_Pop

La Soirée
24 November - 3 February 2018
at the Aldwych Theatre

Tickets and info: la-soiree.com