The queue snaked down the side of the Famous Spiegeltent and deep into its new home in St Andrew’s Square. Expectations were dangerously high for La Clique and when the doors finally opened, only 20 or so minutes late, the crowd quickly but orderly filed in to grab the few good seats.
First off; La Clique do an amazing job with the limited about of the space they have. It’s impressive. I wonder how the people sitting on the front row of the ring would have felt as roller skate armed feet whizzed past their noses.
Despite the impressive use of space the geography of the tent isn’t as kind as it could be. The chances are you won’t see any of the dance moves that happen at floor level. If you sit too near to the side and front you may struggle with watching the magician’s shadow puppet routine. If you sit too far forward I don’t think you’ll be able to fully appreciate some of the acrobatics and trapeze work.
I’ve already mentioned roller stakes, magic, dancing and acrobatics. La Clique is packed with individual routine. The format is a good one. It means if the current act isn’t quite your cup of tea you only have to wait a short while for the next one to begin.
The mix of acts – what you’d expect from a cabaret, a compilation of circus and exotica – is hard to blend together though. I found it quite hard to get into the flow of things as tempo didn’t seem right. Why throw a soft and slow song in between a strip show and a magic act, for example?
There’s a 15 minute break two thirds of the way through to allow the audience to get more beer and the floor area to be re-equipped. This does nothing to help the tempo at all. It’s a shame they couldn’t just have the band – which was good – play a song or two to cover the gap? The crowd near me really got into singing along to Minnie the Moocher when the band finally struck up again.
Each individual act was good. Many started at a disadvantage though, changing tone from the routine that had just finished. Some actually seemed to compete with each other – two disappearing handkerchiefs tricks? Unfortunately for La Clique’s magician one half of his routine is performed in Pete Firman’s Trickster this year and with the same jokes too!
I enjoyed La Clique. It made me gasp. The skill and ability of the individual performers was impressive and without question. I just wish I could have done to see them individually.
Should you go? Yes, I think so. If you’re tempted then it’s probably the case that your Edinburgh Festival this year won’t be complete without some cabaret. Despite the disruption of the space and the blending of the acts you will be impressed by the talent on show. La Clique will get your heart pounding.