Under much fanfare, La Clique returns to London’s West End after an absence of ten years. Christmas versions of the cabaret show have been a firm favourite at Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations in recent years, but now La Clique is back at the famous Spiegeltent in the heart of Christmas at Leicester Square.
Walking in to the venue you’ll find a long list of warnings (or perhaps they are designed to tease) of what to expect once inside; nudity, body contortion, fire and sass stand out from the list. The latter is delivered in spades from compere, Bernie Dieter whose gin fuelled and saucy interactions with the front couple of rows gets the audience in just the right mood.
The great thing about La Clique is that it wonderfully blends Cabaret and Variety in to a very unique show. No two acts could conceivable be described as the same, and that means that the audience are kept gripped throughout, oohing and ahhing at the various feats of physical strength and ability, while Kelly Wolfgramm and the band bring a musical element to the evening.
At one point during Heather Holliday’s act, I found myself wondering how someone discovers they can swallow so many swords in one go, and when she returns in the second half, her act is literally on fire. Equally, one can only imagine what prompted Zoe Marshall to start performing aerial trickery suspended by only the hair on her head, or David Pereira to shave with a razor held between his toes.
In a less high stakes performance, but one that is equally astonishing, is the gentleman juggler Florian Brooks. With this act you can throw away any preconceptions you have about the art of juggling, and be astonished at what this extremely talented performer can achieve.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening came from Charlie Wheeller, known as one third of the highly successful Barely Methodical Troupe. Wheeller brings his trademark Cyr Wheel to the Spiegeltent and rides it like a wayward bull at a rodeo.
There’s something comforting and strangely alluring about stepping in from the cold of Christmas at Leicester Square to the warmth and welcoming atmosphere of the Spiegeltent, and as Bernie Dieter tells us, this is a place where being different is celebrated. La Clique makes a triumphant return to the West End with an astonishing and heady mix of cabaret and variety that will surely delight its audiences.