Barbu, London Wonderground, circus review: ‘Brian Blessed-lookalike dances balletically’

Antoine Carabinier-L�pine performs with a Cyr Wheel as part of the Barbu acrobatic troupe. Picture:

Antoine Carabinier-L�pine performs with a Cyr Wheel as part of the Barbu acrobatic troupe. Picture: David Jensen - Credit: Archant

Have you ever had a dream where a physically ripped Brian Blessed-lookalike Morris dances balletically in front of you? How about four of them?

No? Of course you haven’t, that’s just weird.

But if it happened, you’d be tempted to watch, right?

Welcome to Barbu.

This show, from Canada’s Cirque Alfonse, is a spectacle of brawn, balance, bawdiness, beards and the bizarre.

Stylistically, a throwback to Victorian strongman acts, Barbu combines skilful acrobatics, impressive feats of balance and strength, and a magic performance that is an uproarious delight.

This traditional circus-cum-cabaret has been pumped full of pace and absurdist humour, making it a relentless and breath-taking spectacle.

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Backed by a thumping soundtrack from a live band – a mix of folk and electronic rock that alone can get your foot tapping – four hirsute gentleman, two elegant ladies and one “mentalist,” have choreographed a rapid-fire set of routines combining roller-skating, trapeze artistry, human pyramids, juggling and conjuring that leave mouths open with as much of a “how the…” expression as “what the…”.

However, Barbu’s true joy is how close the audience feel to the troupe.

Aside from the mere proximity of the performers, this highly professional show is full of silly running jokes, pretend mishaps, and random childish antics that encourage you to root for every trick and set-piece to come off.

This show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the result is a feeling that you are watching your crazy best friends show-off just for your amusement at the pumping best party of the year.

Barbu is innovative, artistic, an exhilarating evening out. But most of all, it’s just good old-fashioned fun.

Barbu is at the London Wonderground Southbank.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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