When you think of a circus, images of ferocious lions kept at bay by the trainer's whip, trapeze acrobats swinging across the air in identical uniforms, topped with a huge tent come into mind. All that with a circus master (often wearing a top hat) introducing the acts with "Laaaadies and Gennnnntlemen"... That was what I expected when I stepped into La Clique at London Hippodrome, a stone's throw from Leicester Tube Station.
The setting looked disappointing though. With a capacity for nearly three hundred (including standing) spectators encircling a central state barely three metres in diameter, it doesn't look impressive - at least not in the traditional notion of a circus.
The minuscule size of the stage meant that bringing lions, elephants or any other animals for that matter is totally out of the question. It wasn't that bad yet as Cirque Du Soleil did fine without animals. But one would hardly think that there would be hardly enough space for more than two performers to be on the stage at any one time. I was already thinking that I should have spent that money a play instead.
After a string of predictable and prerecorded circus music repatoir, the performance finally started. Laaaadies and Gennnnntlemen, let's get one thing clear. La Clique is totally unlike any other circus performances; the risque performances are choreographed in a manner that it allows the personality of each performer (only nine in total) to show through their acts and dialogue.
The barrel-chested Michelangelo the Casanova charmed the audience with his baritone voice and cheeky songs while prancing around the them. Balancing acts performed by two grown men (which was more difficult) saw them stripping down to their Union Jack underwear saw ladies ogling at their ripping muscles while men shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
Front row seats (normally coveted) is not advisable in this performance. In his aerial performance, David O'Mer emerged from a bathtub filled with water and twirled round the floor spraying water in all directions. The plastic sheets distributed to the front row audience didn't help a single bit.
The other notable act was that of contortionist Captain Frodo who had to dislocate his shoulders to squeeze his body into "not one, not three, four or five tennis rackets.... but two". With an unsuppressable enthusiasm, he hopped around that small stage in a haphazard (and very well rehearsed) manner that left the audience laughing and crying at the same time.
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Did I mention that there's a magic act as well? Only that the magician in question (Ursula Martinez) is a beautiful Londoner of Spanish origins who made a red handkerchief disappeared and reappeared. To make the point that it wasn't hidden in her garments, she stripped to the buff.
Throughout the two hours duration (with a 15min interval), there are a total of nine performers and probably a dozen acts. The arena (if that's the correct word for it) is supported by no lesser than four bars to ensure that you won't go thirsty.
The tickets price ranges from £37.50 (for posh table service) to £10 (standing floor) per person. Avoid going for Circle seats (£25) as they are placed really far away from the action. If you're on a budget, go for standing tickets instead. What are you waiting for? Book your reduced price tickets here.