Leicester Square is probably number one on the list of places Londoners avoid at all costs, but during Christmas there’s a surprisingly decent market there that’s atmospheric enough to justify breaking our avoidance pacts. The centrepiece of it is the Spiegeltent, an in-the-round theatre space hosting La Clique, which has become the Christmas cabaret tipple du jour these past few years.
Joyous enough for a Christmas party, silly enough for date night and PC enough for a family outing – all without being boring
La Clique ticket holders get a cabaret variety show with six acts. You can choose the boozy show at 7.30pm or the turbo-boozy show at 9.45pm, when frankly anything could happen. Expect a La Clique performer to land in your lap and start snogging your face off – so long as you consent, of course.
It’s relaxed, meaning you can get up from your seat and get a drink at any point, and joyous enough for a Christmas party, silly enough for date night and PC enough for a family outing – all without being boring.
In the West End cabaret shows often feel sanitised and feature mainly hot people suspended in mid air doing aerial tricks while looking hot. La Clique is hardly super-experimental like the titular Cabaret show down the road, (a must-see), but it is commendably weird.
There is Sam Goodburn who wears multiple beanie hats while unicycling. He asks the audience to help him take off his trousers and then put them back on while he struggles to stay on the bike. It’s brilliant watching men awkwardly hauling his slacks over his bum while he does everything he can to make the procedure take as long as possible.
Then there’s Tara Boom, over from Australia, who juggles four umbrellas spectacularly with her feet to create a brilliant visual effect with them suspended in mid air (doesn’t she know it’s bad luck to open them indoors?). In another brilliant piece, Boom wears a popcorn machine on her head and spins a whole bunch of hula hoops with a perturbed look on her face as popcorn explodes chaotically around her.
Then there’s Frenchman Mikael Bres, who elevates the Chinese pole routine by slipping from the top to the bottom and pretending like he’s falling, which is paired well with music and lighting. And there are a couple of brilliant numbers from Ashley Stroud, particularly Diamonds Are Forever, which silences the rowdy after-work crowd. Hugo Desmarais has a good concept as a misbehaving Jesus swinging from his cross but it’s a shame there’s a body shaming joke in the mix.
If Christmas celebration is about anything, it’s about trying to let go of our seriousness, and La Clique certainly helps with that.
In previous years there’s been a compere and the show suffers from a weak opening sequence without one. There is a way of doing cabaret variety shows without a compere, but the result of not having one makes this particular evening lack energy at the opening. By the second act we’re delighted when Bres engages with the crowd, wandering around having banter with audience members: it’s the sort of reactive stuff the audience want.
There is a brilliant atmosphere in the gorgeous Spiegeltent. Decked out with warm lighting and decent sound, it feels both properly cosy and also the sort of place you expect raucous things to happen. If Christmas celebration is about anything, it’s about trying to let go of our seriousness, and La Clique certainly helps with that.
Book La Clique Leicester Square tickets here