It’s circus, but not as you know it. Canada’s Cirque Alfonse returns to London after their 2013 show Timber!, with a new circus production, BARBU. Intrigued by the concept, I was grateful to get the chance to see the show thanks to TheatreBloggers.
The Spiegeltent has been a regular fixture on the South Bank for a few years now, and I always enjoy seeing shows in this space. This one was no exception; the atmosphere in the tent was fantastic, the enthusiastic crowd cheering as the performers accomplished one incredible feat after another.
Most circus displays, in my experience at least, involve lithe and slim young women, but BARBU‘s performers are mostly male, heavily muscled and impressively bearded. Beginning with some impressive skating antics, some jaw-dropping acrobatics, tricky juggling and great dancing, I was gripped from the start but the second half was even more impressive with cyr wheel antics, magic tricks and a little nudity. There was humour, too, with male performers holding on to one another by their beards, and a running gag involving balancing golf clubs.
In many ways the performance was about the display of masculine strength, with impressive feats of energy and balance. However, the female performers got a chance to shine too, particularly with an impressive aerial hoop display. There was no storyline as such, but this hardly mattered as the individual scenes were so varied and entertaining that I was completely absorbed at all times.
The show was backed by live music composed Andre Gangne and David Simard, as well as ringside projections which were often amusing and funny. I really enjoyed the audience engagement and interaction, which made for a brilliant atmosphere in the auditorium.
BARBU is a unique, highly engaging piece of circus theatre with a sense of humour and a stonking soundtrack. It’s the sort of show I’d like to take my friends to. It runs until September, and would make an ideal summer night out.