How marvellous it is to have La Clique back performing in their Spiegeltent in the heart of London’s West End.
Christmas and New Year would not be quite the same without this wonderful eclectic band of performers doing nigh impossible things with their bodies and thrilling audiences in the process (how we missed them in 2020).
Directed by creative producer David Bates, the show is a string of eye boggling acts. All glued together by kabarett star Bernie Dieter who struts around the stage as if she owns it (maybe she does).
Although Covid has curbed her physical interactions with the audience (to the relief of some), her tongue is deliciously wicked as ever (Boris, naturally, gets some verbals) and her wit razor sharp. She also can belt out a song or two. Her rendition of Come Together by the Beatles is thunderous and was probably heard on the other side of the Thames. Marlene Dietrich on steroids.
The acts are all different and entertaining in their unique ways. There’s the craziness of Craig Reid who casts a spell over a merry army of spinning hula-hoops while dressed in rather fetching lederhosen. He makes them (the hula hoops, that is) come to life – and Craig never stops smiling. A whirling dervish.
Not far behind in the crazy stakes is J’Aimime who manages to disappear inside a giant pink balloon. All rather captivating. She also has an earlier intimate time with her shadow which leaves her dressed in little more than knickers and nipple covers.
Heather Holliday sends out mixed messages as she swallows swords (six at one stage) for proverbial breakfast – and then withdraws them, covered in fluids collected from somewhere deep in her body. It’s both mesmerising and stomach turning. Where do those swords go? What if a vital organ is nicked? I’ll never moan about a lateral flow test again, even when the swab at the back of my throat makes me gag. Heather, respect.
Not content with doing extraordinary things with swords, Heather later follows it up by eating and breathing fire. A modern day dragon. Asbestos lips. Fearsome and fearless. Spellbinding.
There’s more. Mirko Kockenberger demonstrates his gymnastic skills in a state of increasing undress (undressing and naked flesh are part and parcel of La Clique).
In the second act Mirko doubles up with Craig Reid as they magically change their outfits without anyone really knowing how they do it. It’s clever and it’s all rumbustious fun.
There’s more. Katharine Arnold spins like crazy from a hoop suspended from the roof while Hugo Desmarais delivers a near-the-knuckle performance as a Christ like figure on a spinning cross-shaped contraption hanging from the tent’s rafters. Later on, Desmarais and Arnold double up aerially in glorious harmony – an extraordinary orbital exhibition.
LJ Marles suspends himself in mid-air with only ribbons saving him from a mighty fall. All rather eye catching, especially given his liking for thigh length boots with heels to die for. Clothes (again) are in scant supply.
Probably the most thrilling act of the night is The Skating Willers as Pierre and Stef – third generation Skating Willers – roller-skate on a circular white board. It’s electric, sexy and breath-taking. It’s also scary as they reach breakneck speeds. What trust they must have in each other.
With Leo P extracting extraordinary sounds from his humongous baritone saxophone and at one stage jumping around the stage like a jack in the box, it all makes for great entertainment. The orkestra, directed by Dannie Bourne, also adds greatly to the night’s theatre and drama.
Although omicron might have a say in matters, La Clique runs until January 8. Catch it if you can. It’s premier cru performance art. Sexy. Sassy. Daring. Spine tingling.
It will blow any New Year blues right out of the nearest window.
Title image by Craig Sugden