Brighton Fringe 2013
Multi-performance risqué cabaret from an Oliver Award-winning troupe, featuring singers, aerialists, magicians, burlesque, circus skills, comedy and other uncategorizable "freak" acts.
It’s been seven years since The Spiegeltent last appeared at the Brighton Festival, and it’s made a very welcome return this year. It is also the spiritual home of the groundbreaking cabaret troupe, La Clique, who also returned with brand new acts. There was a smokey, buzzy atmosphere, with an air of expectation, as the audience piled in to get the best seats.
Unfortunately, the show opened with a laborious “male stripper” act that had a twist ending, but lacked any real humour or charm. The same could be said for all this performer’s set pieces that consisted of eating a bowl of blood in a white dress, and bursting balloons to hardcore techno. All were consistently over-long, pretentious and pointless.
Scotty the Blue Bunny, a 46-year-old gay American dressed in 5-inch clear plastic high heels head-to-toe blue lame with rabbit ears and a scutt—“You’re not freaking out, or having a flashback”—had an act that was endearingly basic, but primarily consisted of twirling a baton, eating a carrot and bursting balloons with his butt.
The Antipodean compere performed a face-distorting-elastic-bands-about-the-head act, that has been a mainstay for unimaginative comedians since the early Eighties.
However,The Wau Wau Sisters’ “Poodle rock” aerialist act was impressive, and they returned as two Dolly Parton cowgirls with some amusing audience participation; and Marawa’s (sic) Burlesque Hula-Hoop act was performed adroitly, but all this was far from the “outrageous, unforgettable,” or even “legendary” acts of old. Reflecting in the interval, the whole thing felt ever-so-slightly shambolic.
But that’s not to say there weren’t good acts, and the second half was a great improvement. The stand-outs were local magician Paul Zenon—whose slick professionalism shone through—and Mikelangelo, whose sleazy, satanic “kabaret noir” singing stole the show. There just wasn’t enough of either of these two.
Unfortunately, what made La Clique cutting edge, fresh and edgy seven years ago, now looks tired, trying and tatty. All the stars who helped make its name have moved on to bigger and better things, but their replacements need to up their game if they’re to do the same. The company is sleepwalking when they should running with knives in their hands.
But still recommended for the stand-out acts.