Friday, February 26, 2016

"La Clique"

The Famous Spiegeltent
Canberra Theatre Centre
Until 14 March 2016
Reviewed by Samara Purnell

With the mercury still hovering around 35 degrees at 8pm, a line of people finally snaked their way into the Spiegeltent. Add a few degrees for humidity once inside and it certainly sucks you in to the smoky atmosphere of yesteryear’s vaudeville. The 1920’s tent’s stained glass windows were ajar, there’s the sound of heels on timber floorboards and the mirrored panels reflect a kaleidoscope of activity.

Kelly Wolfgramm, a Melbourne singer now based in the U.S, opened the show, wonderfully accompanied by Melbourne band The Shuffle Club who provided the live music.

The performances began with Vicky Butterfly shrouded in a LED-lit cape, that she swirled around as the colours changed, dazzling the audience. She later performed a burlesque number with white feathers that looked a little in need of a spruce up and although the routine was elegantly performed, it was a little underwhelming choreographically, with Butterfly leaving too many articles on, rather than using the feathers to greater effect by covering an almost entirely naked body.

The sweat is glistening on the performers already, making me wonder how they will maintain their grip on the Chinese pole, the silks, and each other…but they do…

Chris Myland and Felice Aguilar enthralled with a beautiful dance routine, the genuinely dangerous sequences performed at warp speed, so as the audience barely had time to catch their collective breath before the next feat of balance and flexibility was upon us. The doll-like Aguilar also danced a solo on a spinning table-top, which looked as if its antiquity might mean the end of her! Her balance, grace and concentration were incredible and the routine beautifully executed.

Comedian Gerry Connolly made a regal entrance and, as the Queen, delivers a targeted address to Canberrans, some of which was delivered in “native language as a response to the Prime Minister.” But  “Weetangera, Waramanga, Ngunnawal, Arts Centre” was also followed by an annihilation of Her own lineage and heirs that is so raucous, Republican enthusiasts may be inspired to keep the Monarchy, purely for piss-takes like this.

The Queen was followed by a Prince – of the “Purple Rain” variety. Bearing a ridiculously uncanny resemblance to the singer himself, Omar Cortes, suspended on a silk rope, seductively dips in and out of a bathtub. Spinning above the audience, he flicks the strange smelling water (hopefully chlorinated), about the stage and (plastic protected) front rows. On a night this warm, not many would have minded the splashes. Marty Hayley’s impressive guitar solo during the act was also a welcome interaction between the band and performer. 

Pale-skinned Brit, Sophie Zucchini, performed a routine on the silk rope. She looked amazing, clad in a gorgeously sexy, black bodystocking and sparkles, much sexier than the current fashion of minimal coverage, in nude colours. With elastic limbs, she unravelled toward the ground stopping just centimetres from it. When she returned to perform a light-hearted strip tease, her clothes weren’t the only things disappearing: One would be wise to think twice before asking to borrow a hanky from this lass!

Entertainer Paul Zenon didn’t quite pull off all his little tricks, although thankfully the ones that included flames and potentially flying beer went smoothly. He has possibly inspired a new pub trick to spice up a game of pool.

There was something for the lads and the lasses with Remi Martin taking to the stage in his undies at intermission. He donned clothes before mounting his pole, yet lost no attention as his precisely-controlled display of understated strength saw him descend at pace, face-first toward the floor, tightening his grip on the Chinese pole just in time to keep his face pretty. He must be used to the squeals and gasps from the audience by now…

Martin performed to AWOLNATION’s “Sail”, with which he won “Beat the Best France 2014”. It was unusual to have the same song played twice during a show, as Vicky Butterfly had also used “Sail”. The possible connection could be that her outfit resembled a wingsuit and “Sail” was the soundtrack for a wingsuit flying clip that went viral.  

It was a shame to see the performers used as stage hands when already in their next outfits, even with a jumper thrown on, as it taints the mystique and allure of the coming acts.  

But by the time Wolfgramm performed “I put a spell on you”, the sensuality in the tent was palpable, creating the perfect effect.

La Clique has gathered a pool of dedicated and remarkable talent from the corners of the world, many with established careers in well-known companies such as Cirque Du Soleil. And if beautiful bodies, performances with breathtaking precision, strength, irreverent humour and a little naughtiness backed up by a band is your cup of tea, get along to the Tent.