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La Clique Noel

Festival Square Spiegeltent, Edinburgh
Four stars

This seasonal variation on the nouveau cabaret sensation sired in the after-hours sleaze of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe begins with a Christmas carol. Given the choice is O Come All Ye Faithful, the candle-sporting troupe of dressed-up turns may have other things on their mind.

Running as part of London-based producers Underbelly's take on Edinburgh's Christmas, it's a welcome return to La Clique, hosted with lascivious charm by divine Kit Kat club refugee Bernie Dieter. The parade of acts that follow rattle through assorted bite-size spectacles of excess.

Vicky Butterfly swishes into erotic life with a languid burlesque routine that gets back to nature on several levels. Leah Shelton is delivered onstage in a brightly coloured hold-all, from which her legs run through an equally decorative routine. Teen dream Tim Kriegler transforms aerialism into an artform beyond pure physical spectacle. Heather Holliday shows off her mouth-watering sword-swallowing skills, and Johnny Rey pole-dances to Prince. Scotty the Blue Bunny is camper than Bugs, and Craig Reid is a moustache-twirling strongman with a fetish for hula hoops

On one level, the night resembles an old-school working men's club cabaret reinvented for hipsters and populated by carny folk who look like extras from an early Tom Waits musical vignette. On another, there's a whiff of absurdist live art with a glam-tastic David Lynch inspired twist. Both elements are given bump, grind and a whole lot more besides by Dannie Bourne's hot-blowing six-piece band, with sassy vocalist Kelly Wolfgramm taking the piano for an urgent reinvention of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The climax sees the faithful rewarded with something joyful and triumphant from a returning Leah Shelton. All of which makes for a night of nakedly festive frolics that you can't help but adore.

The Herald, November 27th 2017

ends

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