LA CLIQUE Offbeat revue, starring a stretchy blue leotard ●●●●●

After first popping up as a sprinkling of cabaret shows in the Spiegeltent’s late night club back in 2002, La Clique was launched as a fully formed, stand alone Fringe show the following year. Now celebrating their 10th anniversary, the Australian-based cabaret circus outfit are, by this point, practically masters of the arts of engagement and entertainment. Admittedly, some acts come across a little more lukewarm

than others at first (a few missed notes from a Brel/Piaf singer and some lacklustre tap dancing dilute things a bit). But they cover a good few alt-showbiz bases, including acrobatics (NoFit State’s Adie Delaney drops in via trapeze; Emma Serjeant wows with handstand stunts), death-defying roller skating (the Skating Willers aka Jean-Pierre Poissonnet and Wanda Azzario) and sexy burlesque dancing (Sophie Zucchini scowls in lace). Most end their performance on a high, leaving the audience gobsmacked and ready for the next impressive turn. Despite the wide range of acts, it’s Scotty the Blue Bunny who inevitably steals the show with his intimidating yet lovable charm. After all, who doesn’t love a 46-year-old gay man in a sparkly blue spandex rabbit costume and transparent stilettos?

Fringe favourite Piff the Magic Dragon makes a lovely surprise appearance with his even more popular chihuahua, Mr Piffles. He really must be getting sick of pulling cards from dog food, but those unfamiliar with him were undoubtedly charmed by his apathetic approach to magical comedy.

The key to a good variety show lies in the ability to keep the audience’s interest continually piqued throughout the performance and, without a doubt, these folks still have that in abundance. Vive La Clique. (Nina Glencross) The Famous Spiegeltent, 0844 693 3008, until 25 Aug, 10pm, £20 (£17).

MICHELINE SINGS BREL A splendid if over-sanitised take on the Belgian singer ●●●●●

A Belgian in a bowler hat singing Brel in the divine decadence of a cabaret tent where Jacques himself performed. What could be more authentic? Certainly there’s no question that Micheline Van Hautem possesses one splendid set of pipes, and powerful lungs to back them up. But there is an off-note here that has nothing to do with these hugely impressive interpretations of her countryman’s songbook.

She greets us warmly, recalls previous shows and tells us that she now has two baby boys. Good news, yes, but the cosy family catch-up jars with the gutter- dwellers and debauchees that people her repertoire. Her request that we tweet her while she changes dress leaves the pensioners in the audience bemused. The songs are mostly fantastic (although crawling over the piano and ramping up the sexy is a jarring juxtaposition). The sweetest end of her range is particularly enchanting, a Brel we rarely hear. When she lets off the fireworks, the synapses vibrate. At best it is utterly delicious. 

In ‘Au suivant’, a soldier smells of smoke,

garlic and gin. That is what’s missing from this show. Micheline smells of Waitrose. (Anna Burnside) The Famous Spiegeltent, 0844 693 3008, until 25 Aug (not 12, 19), 7pm, £15 (£13).

68 THE LIST FESTIVAL 15–26 Aug 2013

LADY RIZO Sweeping vocals from a seasoned pro ●●●●● LES CLOCHARDS Scrappy Corsican covers band ●●●●●

As she stalks into the room, all foxy grey lace dress and huge eyelashes, there’s no doubting that New Yorker Lady Rizo is a class act. Which is all to the good, with a tough Monday night crowd to seduce, and the uninspired opener ‘Bali Hai’ from South Pacific to be forgiven. The lacklustre start is quickly forgotten, though,

as the sultry chanteuse gets into her swing. For the most part, her comedy interludes hit the high notes, whether she’s stuffing gloves in her mouth, spurting rose leaves on her audience, or berating her long- suffering assistant.

A costume change in the middle of the show, in

which she handpicks an audience member to unzip her behind a screen, only to probe them on how they lost her virginity, is a surprisingly touching exchange. But it’s the songs that really matter here, and medleys mixing the Pixies’ ‘Where is My Mind’ with ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ more than show off Rizo’s sweeping range and Amy Winehouse growl. Jamie Foxx’s daft ‘Blame It (On the Alcohol)’ gets a playful twist before a high-octane ending, complete with crazy hand-held flashlights, lays bare what this versatile vixen can really do. (Anna Millar) Assembly Checkpoint, 226 0000, until 25 Aug, 7.40pm, £12−13 (£11−£12).

The hobo-styled five-piece, apparently from a small island off the coast of Corsica, make a return trip to the Fringe with another energetically performed set of upbeat acoustic rock. There’s a touch of the Pogues in Les Clöchards’ punk posturing and folk styling, but where the Irishmen mixed traditional folk tunes with their own raw material, these lads perform cover versions of rock and pop songs reworked in a variety of styles. The opening number is an uptempo ska version

of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’. Elsewhere, there’s a heavy rock reworking of the 60s pop classic ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’, a reggae interpretation of Motörhead’s ‘The Ace of Spades’ and a handful of 80s chart hits, ‘The Time of My Life’ and ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ among them, which are given an acoustic rock treatment. Les Clöchards work hard to get the joint jumping,

but they’re probably better suited to playing a small dive rather than the grand hall at Assembly Checkpoint. And although it’s fun to hear some of their reworkings of familiar tunes, they’re a bit hit-and-miss and occasionally quite cringeworthy in a performance that’s not obviously tongue-in-cheek. (Miles Fielder) Assembly Checkpoint, 226 0000, until 25 Aug, 9.10pm, £10−£11 (£9−£10).