The Fringe is back to grace the streets of Edinburgh for another year after its two year hiatus and boy has it has come back with a bang! Edinburgh is practically unrecognisable amongst the food stalls, Underbelly branding and the floods of tourists that squash the Royal Mile. However, alongside this there is the artistic charm and oodles of laughter which fill the air as the energy of the city kicks up a notch.
And how am I starting my Fringe experience? Well with a ‘circus’ no less. I always think at least one should be on your list, and this one is particularly striking. La Clique may have found international fame when it was awarded an Olivier a decade ago but it was born at the Edinburgh Fringe and has come back to its roots for 2022. Combining cabaret, circus acts and comedy, this show is made to entertain and will set you in good stead for a fantastic night.
If there were a few words I could describe this show with, it would be sexy, intense and thrilling. Forget your circuses that are made to entertain the kids, you need to grab a group of your friends and go out here!
Firstly, this is a show that exceeds performance in terms of excellence – the entire production from cast, staging, lighting to music – is all to be commended. It is a feast for the senses and is an entire experience.
I cannot forget the soundtrack, it brings the performers to life and engages with the audience. The perfectly selected music covers well known tracks from the likes of Lady Gaga and allows you to be transported into the world of modern cabaret.
From acrobats and pole athletes to a comedy act with y-fronts – if that doesn’t tell you that you get it all here, then I don’t know what will.
La Clique is set in the Underbelly Circus Hub in the Meadows and the tent is smaller compared to its blue counterpart but it makes the experience all the more intimate and unique. The show starts at 7.25pm and runs for a full 70 minutes so you have plenty of time to fit in more shows or a spot of dinner. Its location is perfectly suited for you to either sit in the sun with a few drinks or head up to the Underbelly courtyard or George Street Gardens for some food stalls and further entertainment.
Sounds great right!? Unfortunately my experience at La Clique was not without fault – I am desperate to give it 5 stars but after paying £21 a ticket, there was more to be desired. We turned up to the Circus Hub at 7pm and noticed a queue already forming so after getting a rather overpriced drink from the bar (just a warning you’re getting that everywhere) we joined the relatively small queue. It quickly increased in size and by 20 past 7 it had tripled in size and was doubling back on itself. I had originally thought by 25 past/half past we would have started to make our way into the tent but it became apparent by 20 to 8 that this was not the case. Frantically, members of staff with ear pieces were running back and fore with next to no communication with the audience who had now been waiting for 40 minutes.
There were people in wheelchairs, crutches and elderly members of the public who clearly would have rather been somewhere comfortable and those who were itching to move as they had booked pieces of entertainment for after. It was only after a member of the queue flagged down a member of staff that they told them there was a safety issue and that it would take 5 minutes. This was at 10 to 8, which led to us only getting in at 5/10 past 8 eventually. I would never complain about making safety a priority, especially in a circus however, the entirety of the queue were not told what was happening and were not given an apology by the staff or La Clique themselves. In fact, once seated it was if the whole thing didn’t happen.
Moving on from this queue disaster, one of the acts had to stop two minutes into their performance because the staging was not up to scratch. The rollerblade couple who were set to perform a rather scathing act on a round, built up stage could not go ahead as the stage was too risky to continue on. Visible disappointment was clear from the couple and alas, they did not reappear on stage for the curtain call. Yet again, although the couple apologised, there was no apology from La Clique as a production or an acknowledgement of the issue. Yes, the rest of the show took away the prominence of the issues but it did leave me wondering where the respect for the audience was.
I found out that we went on night 2 of their performance which was readily used as an excuse by one of the Fringe staff members. However, when you are going to watch an award winning show, that have been performing for years for a price that does not fluctuate depending on whether you attend at the start or the end, you should expect consistency or at least good customer service and to that extent it was unfortunately missing.
As with all shows, I want to rave about it to the sun goes down however, my experience of La Clique is unfortunately tinged with disappointment and I only wish I could have gone later when the wrinkles were ironed out because if this ‘preview’ was anything to go by, I was in for a treat.
There are tickets still available for some of the upcoming shows if you want to check it out. I only hope it goes a lot smoother than my own experience.