La Clique, Hippodrome, London
Thursday 16 October 2008
What good is sitting alone in your room – especially listening to yet another financial report that manages to be wholly worrying and only half-comprehensible? Cometh the hour, cometh the cabaret. The inflation-plagued Weimar Republic had its Kit Kat clubs. The Depression era in America had its frothy flights of escapism. Now, with exquisite timing, La Clique lands in London to provide a couple of hours' ridiculously entertaining respite from the global gloom of the credit-crunch era.
This hip circus of a piece is a stylish blend of saucy burlesque, fairground freak show, stupendous stunts and cool comic cabaret. In its honour, the Hippodrome has been reinvented as a louche Big Top with two bars servicing an audience who sit right round the action. The spectacles range from absurdly sexy to the sublimely silly and the prodigiously skilful.
"Isn't it just amazing what people will do for a living?" asks one of the best acts, Captain Frodo, the Incredible Rubber Man from Norway. He can say that again. Frodo's contortionist speciality is to thread his body though two stringless tennis racquets – a feat that makes the proverbial camel and the eye of a needle look like a doddle. With his head, one arm and one leg through the first of these, he stops to share his thoughts on Jesus "Born on Christmas day, died at Easter. What are the chances of that?"
The other outstanding act is David O'Mer, an aerialist who rises from his bath and twirls aloft clad only in wet jeans in cockily breathtaking and charmingly droll parody of those over-sexualised denim adverts. Yes, sex is strongly on the agenda in this show – but it's all good clean smut, even Ursula Martinez's strip to the buff at each stage of which she makes a red handkerchief disappear and then re-materialise in less and less mentionable places.
There's a ravishingly beautiful hula-hoop act from the Ukrainian wonder, Yulia Pikhtina who looks like a diaphanous winged creature as the hoops spin prismatically around her. There's some wondrously witty puppeteering from the Cabaret Décadanse duo and naughty compèring from Mario the Queen of the Circus and Miss Behave who, as juggler and sword swallower respectively, certainly put the "risk" in "risqué". Warmly recommended.
To 1 February (020-7437 4311; www.thelondonhippodrome.com)
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