It may be winter outside, says Cary Gee, but, boy, are things hotting up inside the now traditional Spiegeltent in London’s Leicester Square.
The mercury rises as mistress of ceremonies Bernie Dieter sashays on stage with a song, a welcome and a warning about just where she’ll stick your mobile should you dare to use it, and continues to hit new highs as each of La Clique’s artists in turn takes to the stage to bewitch, bother and bewilder the senses by doing things that human beings are simply not meant to do.
From gentleman juggler Florian Brooks, a shoo-in to win the annual Soho Waiters’ Race, to the extraordinary contortions of David Pereira who adds new meaning to the phrase “off his trolley” each performance ups the ante.
Because this is entertainment we the audience reap the rewards over a warming libation while the performers take all the risk. There is a visceral thrill to be had in knowing the worst that could happen, and an altogether more basic kind of thrill (at least for my straight guest) as two girls perform an erotically charged death-defying trapeze act together as the brilliant live band performs a track entitled I want to do Bad Things with You.
Things don’t get any easier to watch as Heather Holiday takes to the stage with a fistful of swords which she proceeds to swallow, one by one… at first. Holliday is a bona fide superstar, an inked Josephine Baker with a penchant for cold steel. It’s all a little too much for the birthday girl next to me, and watching her watch Holiday as she gobbles down a light sabre is almost as rewarding as watching Holiday herself.
You won’t see a sexier act on stage anywhere. At least that’s what I thought until The Famous Bath Boy Stephen Williams takes a dip right in front of me.
Gay or straight, it makes no difference. La Clique is fiercely non-binary and there is something for everyone. Thank God for the splash of cold water, and the interval, which comes in the nick of time.
Ever had your hair pulled? Try being spun by it, from the rafters, at more RPM than you’ll ever see on Dancing on Ice, or try your hand at shaving a lathered up naked elf! I can’t help thinking this segment of audience participation -there is plenty in the second half of the show- would’ve been safer before the interval. But fittingly it’s Heather Holiday who once again gets top billing, and this time she’s on fire. Quite literally.
We end with a drinking song, Mr Dionysius, led by the filthily flirtatious Dieter and her tip-top band. The song is a celebration of our differences which seems apt. There really is no other show in town that compares to La Clique. Simply astonishing.
La Clique perform in the Spiegeltent – Leicester Square, London until January 4.