A cabaret is risque business, but the performers of La Clique know that in these pandemic times, the real tease is proximity.

The first long-running theatrical show with an international cast brought in person to Singapore since the circuit breaker last year, it mixes feats of derring-do with moments of sheer silliness—think: a man stripping out of a three-piece suit while suspended from a flying coat stand; a woman bouncing about squealing in a giant gum-pink bubble.

Ribald emcee Bernie Dieter sings lustily about contact. A running gag is that she keeps attempting to touch the audience, always thwarted at the last minute by the long-suffering stage manager.

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La Clique Bernie Dieter
Cabaret artist, songwriter and performance artist Bernie Dieter
Photo: Sliding Doors Entertainment

La Clique was meant to open here in May this year, but was postponed due to Covid-19. Now it takes place inside one of Marina Bay Sands‘ expo halls, revamped as a spiegeltent, the classic large tent used as an entertainment venue.

This makes for an intriguing change—one feels close to the performers, even though all the necessary social distancing restrictions are in place—although because of the flat levels, people further towards the back may struggle to see the non-aerial acts and the sound quality is not superb.

La Clique Oscar Kaufmann
Acrobat Oscar Kaufmann performing La Clique’s “Bath Boy” routine
Photo: Sliding Doors Entertainment

Yet there are some real breathtaking moments in this show. There’s Oscar Kaufmann, an acrobat who performs La Clique’s celebrated and jaw-dropping “Bath Boy” routine, The Skating Willers, a roller-skating duo, execute such breakneck stunts on the narrow stage that half the time you are terrified one will go spinning off into the audience. Then there is Heather Holliday, the classiest sword swallower you ever will see. She also breathes fire in a blazing finale.

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La Clique Heather Holliday
Sword swallower and fire breather Heather Holliday
Photo: Sliding Doors Entertainment

One feels oddly defiant watching all this in a pandemic. After all, as Liza Minelli sang in the musical Cabaret: “What good’s permitting some prophet of doom to wipe every smile away?” Come to the cabaret.

Where: Exhibition Hall C, Level 1 Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
MRT: Bayfront
When: Till Nov 7, 4.30pm (weekends), 8pm (Tuesdays to Sundays)
Admission: $98 to $188
Pre-event testing is compulsory for non-vaccinated audiences. For more information, visit their website.

This article originally appeared on The Straits Times.

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