La CliqueLeft – photo supplied. Cover – photo Dave McCarthy

Was it the hot night or the hot acts that caused the Spiegeltent audience to fan themselves at La Clique? Certainly the ambience of the 1920s canvas and wood structure set the scene for a unique experience.

La Clique is a collection of talented international and local performers in acts of cabaret, contemporary dance, comedy, burlesque and acrobatics. Sort of like Cirque du Soleil but with a smaller cast and minimal set design. It’s also up-close and personal. How? Well, in the sense of you can see sweat beading off brows and there is nudity and strong language.

The mood starts as a mix of fun and mystery – from the introductory swing dancers to the costumed ticket bearers. What will happen inside the tent? After the long process of seating, anticipation builds until the lights dim and the first of two Burlesque performers dazzles with a seamless spectacle involving a flashy costume.

There is no underlying narrative to the evening – rather, magician comedian Paul Zenon as ringleader ties the acts together. He does well to rouse a weekday crowd, though the humour is a bit boom-tish rather than stand-out original. Zenon and others from the cast make audience interaction fun yet unobtrusive. The front row gets a light dash of water, but that’s welcomed on a hot summer night.

Keeping the beat is the backdrop thrum of the live musicians who add to recorded music or perform entire pieces with finesse. Just as smooth is the German dance duo who captivate with silky moves of modern dance, and a young Frenchman who slings his body around in a kind of Parkour on a pole.

Another highlight is at the finale of the expressive other Burlesque dancer with her engaging confidence and comedic edge.

As for lowlights, the concept of general admission could be frustrating for time-poor theatre-goers. Even though there are organised queues, be prepared to wait up to an hour if you want first choice of seats. This makes for a long evening. Never fear – in the Canberra version of the show there are snack vans near the lines and there is an in-tent bar for your thirst.

La Clique in the Spiegeltent is a sensory experience in an intimate setting. This is live theatre: very much a pulsing evening of entertainment.

The Famous Spiegeltent and Canberra Theatre Centre present
La Clique

Venue: The Famous Spiegeltent | Civic Square ACT
Dates: 25 February - 14 March 2016

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