Review by Rosie Holmes
For 15 years, La Clique have been wowing audiences with their creative and funny mix of cabaret, burlesque and circus. This was my first visit to the Spiegeltent to see a performance by La Clique and I was intrigued to see whether the outrageous show would deliver on its promise of ‘laughs, gasps and can’t believe your eyes moments.’
Located in Leicester Square Christmas Market, the show is an ‘adult’ Christmas show, and sells itself as an alternative night out to the countless pantomimes of the festive period. The show is comprised of 7 different performers all displaying mind-boggling and sometimes gravity defying talent, that left me open-mouthed on numerous occasions.
From the moment you enter the tent, you are transported into to a world of cabaret and curiosity. Frankly, Leicester Square is a destination I would normally avoid, however, despite being in the centre of the most touristy place in London, the show still manages to create an experience that feels underground, intimate and even secret. The stage is small, which lends itself to the intimate atmosphere, making you feel like part of the action, we even had to duck at one point to avoid being concussed by an aerial acrobat’s flying legs.
At the top of the show, was Miss Jolie Papilon’s burlesque show, a beautiful performance that had the audience transfixed. In the second act, she performed a routine in a bath, which was both cheeky and sexy, although a word of warning, do not sit in the front row if you want to stay dry. Both myself, my companion and my glass of prosecco were soaked by soapy bath water as the routine ramped up.
The highlight of the night for me was Mikael Bres, who delivered a breath-taking pole routine which quite frankly appeared to defy the rules of science. Not only was the routine beautiful, but also exhilarating, I gasped on multiple occasions as he slid down the pole head first, catching himself just before he hit the ground.
The strength of the show relies on the incredible and unique talent of its performers however the show also provided plenty of comedic moments. Sam Goodburn delivered laughs as he performed a unicycle routine in his pants whilst eating a rich tea biscuit. There were audience laughs aplenty as he cajoled a band of men from the audience to assist him in getting dressed whilst cycling. At times the show teeters on a fine line of acceptability. Hugo Desmarais, dressed as Jesus straddled an audience member and blessed him with holy water, but for the most part it was met with laughter rather than awkwardness.
Tara Boom ended act one with a performance that literally had me questioning whether I was in the midst of a fever dream or not- an enjoyable one nonetheless. Tara first appeared as a scantily clad popcorn seller, whose hat produced freshly made popcorn, popping around her and into the audience’s laps whilst spinning a large amount of hula hoops in a highly chaotic set. She then went on to smear herself, and the popcorn in butter and salt retrieved from her knickers (yes, you did indeed read that right.)
The audience were also treated to a spectacular aerial performance by Katherine Arnold, whose strength amazed me as she contorted herself effortlessly around the aerial hoop. In a remarkable finale, Katherine teamed up with Hugo Desmarais to deliver a romantically charged aerial duet which was quite the departure from Hugo’s first appearance as a camp Jesus. Ashley Stroud was the vocal performer for the evening and performed a rendition of Diamonds are Forever. Unoubtedly she has a wonderful voice however; her performance didn’t seem to fit with the rather outlandish variety of the rest of the show and felt slightly out of place which meant her talent was under appreciated.
Whilst the show was enjoyable, it did feel perhaps it was missing the use of a compere. The second act began with a short spot of audience interaction led by Mikeal Bres which I felt there should have been more of throughout the show. This in fact, highlighted more so what was missing. A compere could really have hyped the audience up and introduced the acts, this was particularly needed in the transition between performances when props were being moved and the stage being cleaned to maintain momentum.
That being said, this show does deliver on its promise and creates what is simply a fun and awe-inspiring show. La Clique is a regular on the London Christmas scene and if pantomime isn’t your thing, this is a Christmas show that should definitely become a fixture in your festive calendar, perfect for groups of friends, your work night out or a date night. I for one, found myself forgetting about the worries of the world and immersed myself in the outrageous atmosphere we found ourselves in. It felt like whilst we were in that tent, anything could happen. Featuring spectacular performances, fun and escapism, this is a guaranteed good night out.
La Clique Plays at the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square until 7th January 2023.
Tickets can be bought from https://www.christmasinleicestersquare.com/