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La Clique Noel – Part Deux review at Festival Square Spiegeltent, Edinburgh – ‘dazzling skills’

Stephen Williams in La Clique Noel Part Deux. Photo: Ian Georgeson
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As Edinburgh steps up its game as a Christmas and New Year destination, and Underbelly’s management of the artistic programme taking place amid the city centre’s Christmas villages intensifies, one of the big seasonal nights out is the show in Festival Square’s Spiegeltent.

For the second year in a row – hence the Part Deux of the title – this show is programmed by La Clique, whose Spiegelmaestro and creative producer David Bates first introduced the Spiegeltent to the Edinburgh festival in 1996 and staged the debut edition of La Clique here in 2003. The cabaret show has since gone on to be a hit around the world.

This starry new seasonal version of La Clique offers something for everyone, although skewed towards those with fairly tame adult tastes. Bernie Dieter is an outstanding host, cutting the twee, tinsel-laying opening short with a curt “this isn’t a fucking panto”; she’s Sally Bowles and the Master of Ceremonies in one vivid and outrageous comedy creation.

Performed in-the-round with a catwalk to the side stage where the five-piece live band and vocalist Kelly Wolfgramm perform, there are perfect views from anywhere in the tent. We see, for example, the tarnishes glint on the swallowed swords of the densely-tattooed Heather Holliday and smell the paraffin after her fire-breathing turn is done, and we know her talent is viscerally real.

Florian Brooks’ juggling with illuminated skittles becomes a technically perfect human light show, and Paul Zenon’s winning blend of comedy and magic withstands an auditorium in which the audience couldn’t have a clearer view of his sleeves.

Alongside such dazzling skills and wicked good humour, the show also features much titillation; most overtly in Mosh’s burlesque strip, and most impressively in dancer/acrobat Stephen Williams’ finale, where he performs rope acrobatics while spraying the front row with his own bathwater.

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The cabaret maestros return to Edinburgh for Christmas with a breathtaking adult variety show