Miss Jolie Papillon wears a sparkly peacock type outfit

La Clique at the Underbelly Festival is absolutely fantastique

Or #YoumustseeitatEdinburghFringe

There’s an old saying along the lines of “You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a blonde woman disappear into a massive pink balloon, and once you have you’ll live a much longer life.”

If that saying is true then I’m going to live forever because I’ve seen such a thing twice.

Circus artist J'aiMime stands in front of a massive pink balloon which is probably as big as her
Circus performer J’aiMime looks like she’s resisting the urge to jump into her big pink balloon (Picture courtesy of Underbelly Festival/ La Clique/ Multitude Media)
Katharine Arnold is upside down in an aerial hoop
Katharine Arnold put on an amazing show at La Clique

There’s also an old saying which goes “Anything Katharine Arnold is in will be absolutely fantastic so you should get tickets now.”

I can’t remember the first time I first saw Katharine spinning around in the air in a hoop or even nicking a glass of Prosecco from someone in the front row as she finished her act.

But I do know that the old saying is true because La Clique, which was her latest show and was on at the Underbelly festival in Cavendish Square, central London, until July 3rd was absolutely incredible.

Fear not though because, unlike last week where I reviewed something you can no longer see, La Clique is going to be in Edinburgh from August 5th to August 27th.

At the time of going to press (I’ll update this when I have more information) I don’t know if all of the London cast will be going up to Edinburgh Fringe but hopefully they will because they were all amazing.

The La Clique audience watched as J'aiMime began to climb into her massive pink balloon
Incredible scenes as J’aiMime began to climb into her balloon
Katharine Arnold is wearing a skin-colour costume with markings on it as if she has been marked up for plastic surgery
Katharine Arnold’s costume makes it look like she’s been marked up for plastic surgery

You may remember not too long ago I mentioned a blonde woman disappearing into a balloon. It really did happen at La Clique, I’m not joking.

I’ve seen a lot of circus in my time but I’ve never seen anyone quite like J’aiMime. Dressed in a candy pink outfit she effortlessly disappeared into a massive pink balloon. Sometimes she bounced around like she was a human space hopper (remember those) and other times she was more of a seemingly shy but always amusing extension of the balloon as she flipped her head from side to side. 

How does someone decide they want to do that for a job? How do they train to do it? How much air does she have inside the balloon? These are questions I’m not sure I’ll ever get the answers to but I’m really pleased she decided to share her skills with the world.

It’s also difficult to truly grasp the sparkling brilliance of Katharine Arnold who is absolutely astounding in La Clique. This perhaps isn’t a surprise to people who have seen her in action at Underbelly or at the many countries she’s performed in across the world, but for anyone else reading this you need to pay special attention to the links I’m going to put at the end of this piece.

Her aerial routines in the show were mesmerising and beautiful, but also had a sense of poignancy to them, where the audience was seemingly invited to both marvel at what they see but also question what the future will hold. This was especially true in her hoop act which was soundtracked by Radiohead’s Creep and had her dressed in a costume as if she had been marked out for plastic surgery.

The man in the Skating Willers lifts up his partners leg as they rollerskate on a tiny platform on the stage
There’s no room for error on the Skating Willers tiny platform
The woman from The Skating Willers is being held by a leg and an arm as the man skates on the platform
It’s like she’s flying at breakneck speed

If you do see La Clique at Edinburgh or anywhere else in the world and The Skating Willers III are on then make sure you sit as close to the front as you can. Indeed they are the reason I paid for front row seats, rather than just being happy to sit a few rows back. 

They will absolutely take your breath away and make all the hairs on your arms stand on end as Pierre swings round Stef at breakneck speed. Oh, did I mention they are also circling round and round on rollerskates – yes, rollerskates. 

This video will show you what I mean about breakneck speeds.

This was incredible
A sensational straps routine by LJ Marles

I would be impressed enough if I saw someone walking around a shopping centre in LJ Marles‘s high-heeled boots. But at La Clique he wows the crowds by making wearing them look effortless while high up in the air performing a straps routine. 

And Mikael Bres enacts a love story as old as time while, during the night I saw the show, a group of women on what might have been a drunken hen do were amazed that he was French. This kind of audience interaction doesn’t happen every night but what does happen is the audience is absolutely astounded at how he can stop just centimetres away from the ground during his Chinese pole act.

Miss Jolie Papillon is wearing a sequinned sparkly outfit with the dark blues and greens of a peacock
Miss Jolie Papillon performed an amazing feathers routine (Picture courtesy of Underbelly Festival/ La Clique/ Multitude Media)
Miss Jolie Papillon is covered in bubble bath and water while in a red bath on stage at La Clique
Miss Jolie Papillon gave a whole new meaning to bathtime at La Clique

La Clique doesn’t just deliver circus though as burlesque superstar Miss Jolie Papillon brings a whole new meaning to bathtime as well as performing the best feathers routine I’ve ever seen. (When I say a whole new meaning to bathtime, I don’t think I’ll ever look at a bath in the same way ever again!)

And I can’t not mention the other incredible performers who both steal the show in their own unique ways – Ashley Stroud as the troupe’s singer with her amazing soulful voice and Tyler West who brings an injection of humour into the tent with his clowning around.

As you won’t be surprised to learn, I definitely recommend you get yourself a ticket for La Clique in Edinburgh.

Before then Katharine Arnold is in another show, still at Underbelly in Cavendish Square. 

It’s called Sophie’s Surprise 29th Birthday Party and you should definitely get tickets for that too because, as I’ve explained in this piece, everything she does is absolutely fantastic.

Stay safe for another week!