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Review: Club Swizzle (Roundhouse)

The creators of La Soirée return to London with their new cabaret circus show

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Reuben Kaye in Club Swizzle
© David Levene 2018

The creators of hit Australian circus and cabaret experience La Soirée are back in London this summer with a hot-as-hell mash-up of what they do best: acrobats, sexy, camp, comedic entertainment. Emceed by drag and cabaret artist Reuben Kaye, the show features a live band and takes place on and over a long bar right in the centre of the Roundhouse's main stage. It's a recipe for success, and yet, while it's got moments of pure, unadulterated joy, Club Swizzle ends up feeling a little thin on the ground.

It's Kaye's deliciously coarse opening stand-up number that sets the tone for an evening of audience harassment and titillation. He's bright and daring in his high heels and spangly jackets ("I've dressed as a seizure"), his lashes batting seductively at punters who have sat far too close to the stage for comfort (note: this show involves mortifying audience participation, so if you're not into that, go for the seats at the back). He's close enough to be able to flick sweat drops at us – which he does, a lot – and comes out with some truly stinging one-liners. "I am what happens if you tell your children they can be anything", he purrs.

Kaye arrives after a fairly long-winded stage set up, where the working bar in the middle of the auditorium is turned into a stage. It's a little clunky, which is mainly to do with the fact that the audience allowed to hang about around the bar (VIP ticket holders) also need to be found tables and chairs. But once Kaye has warmed us up, it's easy to forgive the slight drag. The main circus feature and stars of the night are The Swizzle Boys acrobats (no names given on press night), who are all dressed as barmen and who perform some fairly astounding routines, including everything from human towers to back flips to somersaulting through hoops. There's no wires here, and the group have a charm and cheekiness that's beguiling.

The rest of the acts are, in the main, wonderfully entertaining – from Laurie Hagan as the drunken striptease – she inverts the sexuality of the form so brilliantly – to Yammel Rodriguez who was also in La Soirée with her hoop work and who is remarkable. But once we've seen these in the first half, the second half essentially relies on some extended audience participation which is of course pretty funny, but also feels a tad lazy. That isn't helped by the misjudged tap master Dandy Wellington, who has lots of panache, but his set feels weirdly jarring. There's another round of the Club Swizzle Boys which ends the evening on a high note, but really I wanted a little more acrobat, a little less drunken audience time.

That said, it's unlikely that anyone going to this is not going to have a rollicking night out. Despite the show feeling a little stretched over two hours. When they do get it right, Club Swizzle is a delight. If you like your nights booze-filled, spectacle-filled, barbed witticism-filled and camp-fuelled, you're guaranteed to enjoy this.

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