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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 8, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

    La Clique kick-off

    Fiona McCann

    A woman set fire to her knickers, a man dislocated his shoulder – deliberately, I might add – to fit himself through a tennis racquet, and another played piano while standing on his head: not a bad start for this year’s Fringe Festival, which kicked off Saturday night with La Clique.

    This carnivalesque collection of wacky acts was the big hit of last year’s Fringe, and many of the same delightful faces have returned:  Captain Frodo is still charmingly bendy, David O’Mer is still rippling his torso in a porcelain bath, and the English Gents are still hoisting each other into the air on their little fingers without taking their eyes of the Financial Times.

    So what’s different? Mario, Queen of the Circus, for one, who juggles and unicycles to Queen songs, Michaelangelo, who replaces Camille O’Sullivan as the in-between singer (does he fill her shoes? Those shoes? I don’t think so!) and Ursula Martinez, who would make handkerchiefs disappear up her sleeve, if she weren’t entirely devoid of sleeves or any other form of clothing. There are also a few updates on last year’s acts: the English Gents have introduced a bit of local colour to their act, but that’s all we can reveal.

    If you missed it last year, go. If you saw it last year, you won’t need much persuading to go again. Quirky circusry with lots of fun to launch what’s shaping up to be another highly entertaining Fringe season. Oh, and the Docklands are so last year: this year’s hub is the Iveagh Gardens, making for a much more picturesque and party feeling, and that’s from a Northside habitual.

    Your comments, please. Anyone? Bueller?

    • Nik says:

      Congrats to the Times for getting bloggy with it. I found myself missing Camille too in La Clique and not sure we should have had our bath before the interval (last year David was the penultimate act of the show) but the Secret garden and its waterfall rockery, ahem, rocks. Shouts to the OPW for giving us back the Iveagh Gardens. Roll on more circus madness.

    • JC says:

      I thought the Spiegeltent was itself a draw. What a cool space. Though apparently not one of the truly original, Weimar-Republican tents from 1930s Berlin, I found it a compelling replica. A little too much Hennessy branding, but what can you do? Oh, here’s one thing you can do: don’t sit right near the piano, because, though La Clique is definitely theater-in-the-round, much action takes place at (or on) the piano, which is, you’ll pardon me, on the fringe. Sitting near the piano, I had a fine view of the (true, sometimes naked) backsides of the performers. Also don’t sit in front of the nattering hens I sat in front of. And the bathtub guy isn’t as sexy as he thinks he is.

    • Eamonn Clancy says:

      Was bored silly by the Spiegeltent last year and the year before. Most of the fringe shows I saw too were 3rd division standard. The fringed has become jaded and is taking itself far too seriously. It needs to discriminate between good and mediocre work. It is becoming a home for the phoney and cliched.

    • La Cirque was absolutely fantastic, what a great show. And let me just disagree with whoever is dissing bathtub guy – hot is not the word!

      The Spiegeltent is very well run with helpful staff and a great atmosphere – a friend with mobility problems was quickly seated, with no fuss, in a comfortable area.

    • Anna says:

      I thought this year’s performance outshone last years. Camille was not missed. Michaelangelo was a great replacement. His dulcid tones & lurid lyrics were more in line with the comedic feel of the show.I Laughed heartily at Mario & Ms Martinez the naked magician. Enjoyed it more this time round.

    • enthralled says:

      “Was bored silly by the Spiegeltent last year and the year before. Most of the fringe shows I saw too were 3rd division standard. The fringed has become jaded and is taking itself far too seriously. It needs to discriminate between good and mediocre work. It is becoming a home for the phoney and cliched.” Not only does this comment make little sense (jaded AND taking themselves too seriously? really?), but is pretty unfounded. La clique has toured all over the world to rave reviews, and as I saw last week, they deserved them – sexy, exciting performances all round. Methinks Mr Clancy is suffering a bout of the ‘jaded and taking himself too seriously.’


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