Welcome to L’Hôtel: A Tryst Into Temptation
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Saturday June 12
reviewed by Amy Donohoe
The moment I stepped into the Space Theatre I was immediately transported to 1920s France! Carefully considered staging set the scene. The room was dimly lit by small lamps upon round tables, which were sporadically placed across the floor. Waiters and waitresses floated around the space and offered the complimentary champagne and cheese platters to the guests. A hotel corridor could be seen on the balcony above the reception on the front stage, to the left was a bathtub, to the right a piano. This staging later allowed the audience to take on the role of voyeur and allowed them to discover what the occupants of L’Hotel were hiding behind closed doors.
L’Hotel is an indulgent escape in the program of the 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
As the audience grazed on their food, during the first half an hour, the diverse characters were introduced as they entered L’Hotel through the reception. A surprise came when the waiters and waitresses began to dance!
They utilised stylistic movements reminiscent of Fossé and then abruptly stopped and continued on with their daily ‘chores’. As each character was introduced the waiters and waitresses completed short axial motifs, which changed directions and seemingly pertained to the character in presence. This built intrigue; however, there was a lot going on at some points, therefore you the audience could be afraid of missing out on something vital.
Caroline Nin introduced the show in fluent French, so for non-French speakers this meant inferring meaning through her storytelling. Her vocals were both powerful and moving, a great way to officially open the show. Following this was Brendan Maclean’s effortless serenade on the piano which pulled a few heart strings in the audience.
Our attention was then brought to Lexi Strumolo and Bri Emrich who engaged in a secretive and seductive pas de deux in the bathtub. The girls showed their strength and flexibility by balancing on the edges of the bathtub and counterbalancing each other in numerous impressive lifts. The fact the women were wet from the bathtub made the act even more impressive due to the potential risk involved.
A highlight was Masha Terentieva’s use of the luggage cart to showcase her aerial and contortionist skills. The choreography in this section was inventive and utilised every aspect of the prop. Terentieva then upped the ante by suspending the cart high in the air. Here she completed extravagant and highly engaging movements, some of which were executed upside down.
Beau Sargent, another circus performer, continued with the aerial theme by suspending himself in air using only one hand. This showed his immense strength and allowed him to showcase his incredible flexibility. He then raised the stakes by performing various movements suspending from his neck; which received a roar of applause from the audience.
Leah Shelton performed an obscure burlesque routine which consisted of a bizarre striptease; however; the intent of this routine was a little unclear and unsettling.
The crowd favourite came in the form of Bentley Rebel, the reception manager who whipped off his costume to reveal a chiselled man in stilettos and a G-string! He approached up to the pole and seamlessly worked in pole-dancing moves like the Bird of Paradise, Cheba Split, Ankle Hang and Ayesha into his routine. Great fun.
Overall, I believe the performances presented in L’Hotel were delightful and allowed the audience to truly feel immersed in the French Cabaret experience. The performers’ unique talents were truly marvels in their own right. The actual word ‘wow’ escaped my lips on more than one occasion throughout this show.
The synopsis of the show directed by Craig Ilott clearly hit the mark, as the overall performance delivered far more than was promised.
C’est Trés Magnific!