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4th June 2023

Review: La Clique

The Mancunion attended La Clique’s exclusive launch party to celebrate its Northern premiere – and we were absolutely blown away
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Review: La Clique
Lj Marles. Photo: Craig Sugden

Following the media preview event last week, La Clique has began its residenc Depot Mayfield, and we were invited to an exclusive launch party to celebrate its Northern premiere!

La Clique is exactly what I wanted from a cabaret circus night out. The performers are all incredible and unique, rousing the audience even though it was a work night. Despite only being 90 minutes plus an interval, it crams in an exceptional range of acts with something for everyone.

Miranda Menzies opened with a hair-hanging routine, during which she span and swooped across the stage. Her whole body shimmered with glitter as she contorted herself in midair, hanging only by the hair on her head. Later on, she performed with a giant balloon which was significantly more kinky, showing the diversity of her acts.

Heather Holliday, “queen of the Coney Island sideshow”, impressed us all with a sword-swallowing routine that was to gag for. While the idea of putting a piece of metal down my throat makes me feel sick, you could tell that she delighted in the grossness as she swallowed an increasing number of swords. Between swords, Holliday paraded around the space, revelling in the disbelief of the audience as she held up the swords for all to see.

The acts were split up by the appearance of the delightful Chastity Belt, who sang jazzified versions of pop songs. Her voice was gorgeous as was her audience interaction, in which she tried to find a husband in the crowd. As well as her comedy and singing, her outfits were absolutely stunning, with a different headpiece every time she came onstage.

The stage itself was tiny. With the audience sat in the round, there was a real energy that centred on each act in the middle. The seating also meant that everyone had a good view.

The tiny stage was most impressive with Oscar Kaufmann’s Cyr wheel. The wheel laid down was almost as large as the stage, giving little room for error when he began spinning it. The Cyr wheel does not look easy to control yet Kaufmann moved with practised fluidity, even taking his jacket off while balanced inside the large wheel.

Later on, Kaufmann had an aerial act. He dangled off an upcycled hatstand, slowly taking items of clothing off between practised poses. The unusual shape allowed him to combine moves from flying pole and trapeze with something completely original on the round horizontal bars. Kaufmann’s knowing grin let the audience in on the secret that he knew what he was doing, between drops that had everyone gasping.

Showing a completely different skill set was Sam Goodburn, who unicycled in to ‘Immigrant Song’ by Led Zeppelin, wearing a dressing gown and throwing biscuits into the audience. His dweeby persona was the perfect contrast to the strength-based performance preceding it. Nonetheless, Goodburn’s act still involved stripping and getting into a suit. The latter part was helped by an audience member who was given biscuits in exchange for helping him put his trousers on in a weirdly kinky scene.

Goodburn’s second act mainly involved juggling. The use of contact juggling alongside traditional throwing made the act feel fresh. This act also highlighted the importance of offstage staff who ran around and made sure that everything ran smoothly. While they were mostly in the background, you could tell that they were the ones who made everything come together.

LJ Marles (who Theatre Editor Jay Darcy interviewed at the media preview) has two spectacular straps routines, one with loop-like straps and the other with static straps. The first straps routine had a breakdance feel and played into the humour of being caught up in straps and spinning above the ground. The second routine was much sexier, with Marles wearing thigh-high latex boots which he wrapped around the static straps. The routine felt like a combination of pole and straps and made my core hurt just to watch. Marles’ strength throughout was incredible as he posed in various positions that had his body parallel with the floor.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to mention the award-winning Myra Dubois, a whip-smart drag queen who had us in stitches. Her glittery leopard-print dress and matching microphone leant an excellent sass to her performance. Before singing a song, she took a few minutes to comment on some audience members with a humour that drew the whole crowd in.

La Clique has a diverse range of acts and not much in the way of a ringmaster but nonetheless it flowed really well. The show felt cohesive and fun, although not something to take children to!

While we were given permission to leave and go to the bar at ay time, I have to say I was so drawn in by every act that I didn’t want to miss a moment. The atmosphere really was incredible, and I can only hope the show is well-attended for the rest of its showing. If you need a sign to buy tickets, this is it! You won’t regret it.


La Clique runs at Depot Mayfield until July 9.

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