LA CLIQUE at the Christmas in Leicester Square
“Thrilling and awe-inspiring”
The literal translation of ‘La Clique’ from the French describes a group of people who are “friendly with each other but exclude others”. Tip number one: pay absolutely no attention to that definition when attending “La Clique”, the alternative cabaret-come-circus show at the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square. Expect the complete opposite. The show couldn’t be more inclusive if it tried. Tip number two: get there early if you want to secure a front row seat. Provided, that is, you like the idea of being soaked by the foamy bath water of a near-naked Burlesque songbird, or straddled by a highly toned aerialist in nothing but sequined trunks enjoying his moment of post-crucifixion passion. (Tip number three: if this doesn’t sound like your thing then either; a) stop reading now or b) make it your thing – you don’t know what you’re missing).
Born at the Edinburgh Festival back in 2004, the Olivier award-winning “La Clique” created its own genre with its mix of circus, cabaret, music and mayhem; topped with irreverence, sexiness and mind-blowing thrills. It has since travelled the world with its extended family of performers that represent the cream of the cabaret and circus scene. Wandering into the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square is like straying into an alternative wonderland, away from the tourists. An intimate world. A club in which you belong, and the penny drops. “La Clique” is faithful to its definition. It is the outside world that is excluded, and you are immersed within, and embraced by, this eccentric family.
There appears to be nobody in charge. No MC. Each performer is calling the shots. Miss Jolie Papillon appears like magic. The ‘Bird of Oceana’, with aquamarine feathers not quite concealing the climax of her exotic routine. Later returning with her bathtub burlesque (see above). A grotesque hospital patient transforms into the beauty that is aerialist Katharine Arnold. This show is not just about technique and virtuosic skill. It is performance art. Theatre. Spectacle. Arnold returns to the ring with Hugo Desmarais with a unique and exquisite display of passion and synchronicity, suspended high above the crowd, defying gravity with the ultimate wickedness.
Ashley Stroud, on the surface, has fewer tricks up her sleeve. The magic lies in the beauty – of body and soul. And voice. Mikael Bres takes pole dancing to another level, merging acrobatics, dance, drama and his mastery of the Chinese Pole. Comic relief comes from Sam Goodburn with his unicycle and slapstick reverse striptease. (Tip number four: avoid the front row if you’re at all fussy about where a biscuit has been before you eat it). Tara Boom is the popcorn seller from Hell – or Heaven, depending on your penchants. An act that should come with every Government health warning imaginable.
Whether these are highlights or whether I’ve managed to cover the whole line up is irrelevant. Every moment is a highlight. A revolution and a revelation. A place where you can leave your troubles outside. In the Spiegeltent life is beautiful. Sensuous, sensual and sexual. Thrilling and awe-inspiring. And unpredictable, sometimes dangerous. You smile, gape and laugh in equal measure. Entertainment is taken to the edge. And it takes you with it. Unmissable. (Tip number five: see tip number three – part b).
Reviewed on 15th November 2022
by Jonathan Evans
Photography by Craig Sugden
Previously reviewed at this venue: