Circus and cabaret outfit La Clique returns to London for the first time in 10 years to present a polished new line-up of acrobatic and musical acts.
The band is slick, enthusiastically led on piano by impresario David Bates, who first unveiled the troupe at 2004’s Edinburgh Fringe. Compére Bernie Dieter, bedecked in black feathers and spandex, delivers rousing vocals and some lightly scabrous moments, while keeping a kohl-rimmed eye peeled for jumper-clad men in the audience to clamber over and embarrass with caresses and come-ons.
For all the show’s insistence on its saucy subversion, some of the acts feel a little tired: a bendy female duo in suspenders and knickers perfunctorily share an aerial hoop and some rather grimly practised Sapphic poses, while a bloke in tight blue jeans flops in and out of a full bathtub on the aerial ropes, occasionally pausing to fling a sodden schmatta and a rubber duck into the audience. The relatively small size of this Spiegeltent’s stage seems like an acrobatic constriction here, as it does with the Cyr wheel, which can’t rotate out of the one spot.
Elsewhere, there’s a gentle charm to Florian Brooks’ juggling act with champagne glasses, while Leah Shelton proves a multifaceted performer. She has an enjoyably daffy routine involving a giant suitcase and three legs, later recreating Ursula Martinez’s famous disappearing hanky striptease with brazen aplomb. The piecemeal format makes for some uneven pacing, but Heather Holliday’s fire-breathing routine ends things with a whoosh of drama.