Arts & culture

Fringe finales: Cabaret

The cabaret antics that have kept us mesmerised and entertained this Edinburgh Festival Fringe

La Clique 

When you arrive at Underbelly’s big top on the Meadows – knowing you’re about to be agog at some of the contortions and aerial feats performed in front of you – the audience is told that if they must video parts of the show, to do it briefly and then try to be in the moment. We like the spirit of this, as La Clique’s troupe of multi-talented performers are best appreciated when given your full, wide-eyed attention.

A swaggering cowboy making light work of inhabiting a large hoop while dialling up the speed and quite possibly getting audience members’ pulses racing at the same time? Check. Fire-eating and sword-swallowing in copious quantities? Present and viewed with impressed, but gritted teeth. The show’s energy is deft and unrelenting, with the performers arriving on stage apace to demonstrate their finely crafted comedic and circus skills. The ropework and all-round acrobatics are breathtaking to watch, with the cast making it look like shimmying up a pole at a rate of knots then hanging on for dear life with one limb is the easiest thing in the world. 

There’s a reason La Clique still regularly packs out the Spiegeltent at the Fringe – the cast are experts at keeping the audience entertained, but also slightly on the edge of their seats. When you’ve been in the front row watching half of the best rollerskating act in the world whoosh above your head, you’ll know what we mean.



If sexy, tongue-in-cheek acrobatics (with a side of light spanking) is where your cabaret leanings lie, then Rouge should be a thoroughly enjoyable experience – perhaps leaving you as rosy-faced as the show’s name suggests… in the good way.

The chemistry between the cast of this small, but perfectly-formed Australian troupe is electric, which lends a sizzling smoothness to the action on stage. In-between moments of cheeky humour – with the perfomers bathed in atmospheric, after-hours red lighting – there are impressive set pieces exhibiting immense circus skill and agility. There’s a sinewy physicality to much of the show which is beautifully choreographed, creating a sultry and seductive feel overall. Michaela Burger’s operatic vocals also give the onstage action a dazzling edge. 

The creators of Rouge wanted to make a sexy show on their terms, celebrating queer relationships, kinkiness and women having sexual freedom and enjoyment that isn’t just geared towards the male gaze. That ethos is brilliantly obvious throughout the show, and is one of its unique strengths.

Diane Chorley: Down the Flick


Cabaret artist Diane Chorley’s ‘80s nightclub, The Flick, has become somewhat of an institution at the Fringe – its glitterball bedecked entrance beckoning in those that belong to the night (one of Diane’s most anthemic numbers) and also just anyone up for a bloody good time.

Take your seat amongst the palms and hear your host, the Duchess of Canvey, chat life and celebrity encounters in the 10 years since she got out of the slammer. The laughs are many, the ‘80s and ‘90s references as gleefully nostalgic as it gets, and the music – catchy songs sung by Chorley with her sidekick Milky on guitar – best enjoyed with a piña colada in hand. 

This is late-night, feel-good Fringe at its finest, with Chorley’s radar for special guests always spot on, ranging from comedians to drag artists and yet more sensational cabaret. “You’re all bleedin’ gorgeous!” is Chorley’s favourite serenade, and it can’t fail but bring the room together in good spirits before dancing ensues.