Creative Director: David Bates
Musical Director: Dannie Bourne
Venues are open, the tube is stuffy, La Clique is back in Leicester Square. Nature is healing. And while there’s still a threat that all may come crashing down again we have fabulous, entrancing shows like this to keep us buoyant and amazed.
The jewelled music box that is the Spiegeltent is a perfect cabaret setting. Intimate, shadow-filled and sexy, what better way to experience the music, the skill, the comedy and verve of the new cast of La Clique?
Compèred by Bernie Dieter, who graces us with songs and sass throughout the night, the show is a finely balanced collection of circus and cabaret performances. We have a healthy dose of athleticism and gymnastic talent in the form of aerial performer Hugo Desmarais. The inventive and glamorous LJ Marles flies up, down and around on a vertical tension strap he invented, giving a performance so absorbing we almost forget Dieter is backing him with an absolutely banging version of Beatles song Come Together. The fantastic roller skating duo The Skating Willers III show us what’s possible with a lot of strength, balance, practice and panache.
Back on the ground Heather Holliday brings a high glamour alongside physical jeopardy as she breathes fire and swallows a startling number of swords. Mirko Köckenberger gives us his famous bellhop to businessman dressing routine which sees him precariously changing clothes during various handstands on unstable suitcases and Craig Reid (or, The Incredible Hula Boy) produces a charismatic performance with his hula routine backed by alpine yodelling. Teamed together, however, Mirko and Craig really shine in a joyous double-act mixing costume changes and acrobatics dominated by speed, sleight of hand and sequins.
Bringing the much needed silliness that any cabaret needs is J’aiMime with an act she describes as “balloon eats awkward blonde girl” which is a beautifully succinct and accurate description of what happens.
All of this is backed by the smashing La Clique Palais Orkestra under the control of musical director Dannie Bourne who joins the group at the keyboard. From a high-quality group, one stands out. Stepping into the limelight for a solo slot in the cabaret scheduling is Leo P, bombastic and provocative with a baritone saxophone.
It’s small but well formed – each act contributing uniquely to the jokiness, the sultriness, the physicality and the mental engagement a good cabaret or circus needs. While Dieter does a great job of whipping up the audience and calming us down at the key moments, there’s still a feeling that this is a collection of individual acts rather than a coherent and cohesive show. Incredibly enjoyable, but missing a unifying narrative. It’s a gorgeous, energetic, attractive and entertaining showcase for all the individual acts and creative participants, but misses out on creating a recognisable bigger picture.
Runs until 8 January 2021