Step under the big top and into the glamorous, gilded, glitzy Palais Du Variete for an hour of sultry showmanship. Whether you’re lounging back in a luxurious booth, drink in hand or watching up-close in the seats, you’ll find yourself leaning forward in awe as the performers strut and slink out. Blasé throughout, they are decked in red and black, lace and straps and immediately jump into the provocatively choreographed opening: Paris de Nuit. 

This is not traditional circus: juggling is all about the music and the dance, tightropes are walked in tall red heels, idle performers rarely disappear back stage but instead pace around like caged lions, lurking in wait. Enticing jazz illuminates sultry tumbling that will leave you gasping as exceptional talent gracefully climbs and shockingly falls – into an erotic red bed.

Gorgeous cabaret provokes a poignant dance above the ground as men suspended by a rope wordlessly enact friezes of queer love, swiftly and elegantly falling and shifting between stunning positions near the top of the tent. However, the most intoxicating scene was an indescribable, theatrical, heart-breaking solo performance on an aerial hoop. Spinning and twirling, femme fatale Erika Vasas make your heart race without once pausing for breath or applause.

The set, the haircuts and, most of all, the audience interaction bring the 1930s to life. Even during moments of comic relief, gasping is audible: the sheer cheekiness might just match the stunning feats of human physicality.

Perhaps guilty of being over the top, perhaps even guilty of being cheesy, this enthralling collection of dazzling emotional landscapes is certainly guilty of an abrupt and unjust ending, leaving everyone wanting more but unsure if they can take it.

Words: Emily Hall 

Paris de Nuit, Assembly George Square Gardens, Aug 11-27 (not 14, 21), 8.30pm

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