La Clique… A Sideshow Burlesque
La Clique @ The Famous Spiegeltent
10:30pm, Tue 14 Mar 2006
After a plethora of huge raves about its spectacular and refined nature, La Clique became the hottest ticket of the Fringe, selling out the last dozen or so performances. The capacity of the Spiegeltent, multiplied by $30/head, means that this show was causing some serious turnover. So I was pretty happy to snaffle my ticket; but imagine my joy when I arrive at the venue half an hour before the scheduled start of the show and find the queue twisting and turning around the Garden, hundreds of people patiently waiting.
My luck didn’t pan out as well as it did with The Burlesque Hour, either, though I still scored a reasonable fourth row seat. Reasonable view of the centre stage, and at least I wasn’t standing like the peeps at the very end of the queue.
The show opened with a nice bit of operatic singing by Ali McGregor – all very lovely, but it triggered the “style over substance” warning bells in my head. The Dual Acrobats… er, The English Gents, runners-up in the busker’s competition(!) on the weekend, came out next – they’re bloody brilliant, quite astonishingly powerful fellows who amaze with style and grace; superb control, strength, and balance. But what were they doing in the busker’s competition in the first place? Don’t they already have a professional gig? Ho hum, that’s a whinge for another day.
Miss Behave appears for a cheeky little play with the crowd, then Captain Frodo performs his gob-smacking tennis racquet trick – twisting, breaking, and contorting himself through not one, but two racquet heads. There’s equal parts gross-out, incredulity, and lunatic giggling as we watched him flail about the stage, limbs pinned and shoulders popped, sending his microphone flying. Amazing stuff. The first act is rounded out by Ursula Martinez performing a bit of strip magic – ooooh, ever-so-risque, she’s pulled her hidden silk out from her unmentionables! Gasp, shock, horror, titillate… but funny nonetheless.
The second act starts with a little more operatics, then Ursula returns (with clothes) for a bit of cockney spanish guitar. Captain Frodo did a balancing act, perching atop an unfeasibly high pyramid of cans, though I could’ve sworn I’d seen this act a couple of years ago. Miss Behave does a decent sword swallowing act, and then comes the finale – the powerful David O’Mer performing feats of strength and balance, clad only in snugly fitting jeans. This is the act that provided the spectacular imagery for La Clique‘s advertising; you could hear all the women (and, truth be told, most of the men) in the Spiegeltent swoon every time O’Mer slowly raised himself out of his bathtub using his overhead ropes – muscles taut, this act was all about control.
It wasn’t all highlights, though – the trapeze act was average (certainly in comparison to the other acts), and the most spectacular thing about the hoops bit was the proximity to the crowd. But overall, La Clique is certainly a comprehensive and enjoyable collection of acts. But let’s face it, it’s hardly the most ground-breaking or risqué act at the Fringe; but they’ll be happy to take the money off the crowds who are convinced that it is.