Bringing together performers from Australia and abroad, L’Hôtel at the Sydney Opera House combines cabaret, circus and a touch of burlesque all within the walls of an opulent French hotel lobby. Directed by Craig Ilott and choreographed by Lucas Newland and Jo Cotterill, the audience is invited to take a seat in Le Salon and partake in decadent French cheeses, chocolate eclairs and champagne. If this is not your style, the mezzanine offers Le Voyeur seating for a more ‘look but don’t touch’ atmosphere.
As revellers begin to take their seats, the music starts and the incredible Parisian-based jazz singer Caroline Nin begins to sing. Suddenly the wait staff who, two minutes ago had been serving you champagne, begin to burst out in perfectly timed and expertly choreographed moves, before once again serving drinks. It’s at this point you realise this won’t be any ordinary evening.
A specialist in juggling and manipulation, Florian Brooks enthralled the audience with his incredible talent for balancing champagne flutes on one another and juggling bottles and glasses. Meanwhile Masha Terentieva contorted her body within a baggage trolley as it was lifted high into the air. An award-winning contemporary circus artist, it is not surprising to learn that Terentieva has performed with Cirque du Soleil. To be able to be so graceful and fluid while dangling from a trolley is no small feat, yet she made it look easy.
Several performers demonstrated incredible physical strength and agility. Bri Emrich and CJ Shuttleworth created a mesmerising adagio act that was a masterclass in acrobatics, pole artist Bentley Rebel appeared effortless as he spun his body around and aerialist Beau Sargent left the room in raptures as he performed beautiful shapes in mid-air to the vocal talents of Brendan Maclean.
I do wonder what it is about the delights of Paris that continues to intrigue and enthral us. There will always be an old-world glamour and sophistication attached to the city of lights, this ideal of the ‘starving artist’, the eternal romantic and a language that will forever allure and delight us. This is what L’Hôtel reflects.
As the night progressed different performers would take centre stage and while it felt as if they were trying to create a narrative that centred around life at the hotel and those who worked and stayed there – the ties were a little tenuous. Ultimately though, this largely didn’t matter. At the end of the day L’Hôtel delivers on its promise of an “immersive evening of French finery and food, dripping in old-world glamour.”
L’Hôtel is fun, frivolous and thoroughly entertaining. The skill presented by all the performers is world class and more than one patron was overheard commenting that they would have loved to stay longer. Perhaps it’s the champagne, perhaps it’s the sense of indulgence or more likely it’s the air of French decadence that leaves the audience wanting more.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
L’Hôtel will run until 13 November 2022. For more information and to book head to the Sydney Opera House website.
Reviewer attended on 14 October 2022.