Visiting London Wonderground once again, the festival spirit always comes alive on the South Bank. The place is now London’s hive, buzzing with the cool uniqueness, urban originals and international talent. It preaches #Londonisopen and I love enjoying this weird combination of a busy yet chillaxed mood.
Normally I prefer visiting shows solo and hanging out with any fellow theatre bloggers when I get there, but this time I had a travel buddy…my little sister (well I say “little”). Tagging along to watch Cirque Alfonse’s BARBU, we were coming to the end of our sisters’ London getaway and wanted to be wowed by the circus.
The latest eye-popping show from the spectacularly raucous and sexy French-Canadian circus troupe Cirque Alfonse, BARBU is the event of the summer. Taking the form of edge-of-your-seat, off-the-wall entertainment to a whole other level BARBU brings breath-taking performances from a group of the world’s most extraordinary, dare-devil acrobats, set to a heart thumping score by a frenetic electro-trad band.
Daring, daft, and sexy as hell: this is circus, but not as you know it.
BARBU was a quirky acrobatic act, with a rustic, off-beaten vibe. Squeezed into a ring of wooden seats, the show was sold out and the space was partying with the early morning of Thursday night. Drenched in red alongside techy tunes, the atmosphere hollered “let’s have some fun”.
Plenty of hilarious routines, involving roller skating in a confined space, balancing golf clubs and dancing with ribbon wands, the audience loved it. Whistling and applauding the muscles and the display of hard core strength and trust, the performers were impressive and determined to show off their skills towards a lively audience. We all lapped up their energy.
Being a non-beard believer, BARBU hailed the hairy look and made me repent my sins towards the beards. They made the fuzz look weirdly sexy… probably helped by wearing their tight black (oh m)y fronts. Twizzling their facial hair for the required strength, they were the reincarnations of Samson and I became their Delilah for the next 75 minutes.
Wanting to shield my sister’s eyes from bum cheeks, laughter farted and applause wiped the air. The nakedness was flaunted and you couldn’t help, but chuckle at the surprised facial expressions. With a few naughty winks, BARBU soon had their disco balls out. My sister giggled, finding the show hilarious and probably WhatsApped her friends as soon as we left. “Don’t tell Mum,” I whispered and blackmailed her with McDonalds.
Like a game of pass the parcel, I disliked the routine of a small animal (guinea pig or hamster) being passed between performers. I don’t want to go all RSPCA, but, having two guinea pigs myself, they are hypersensitive to loud noise. Unsure how a booming stage and constant applause would translate towards little ears and a pooping behind, I disapproved. It was hard to unsee what I saw and I began to switch off towards the routines. Gently passing the small rodent between the performers’ flat palms, I failed to see the relevance of exchanging a fluffy patter cake… or perhaps I’m mega sensitive towards my fellow furry friends?
BARBU was a good chunky slice of evening entertainment, but it missed its cherry of polished perfection on top. Humans make mistakes, but these were scattered throughout the show. Luckily, they were laughed away, but I fear my expectations fled too.
BARBU pleased those London workers sitting in the drinking booths with their bottles on rocks so I guess the production is a great warm up before you hit the town. Though drink can cloud judgement. Maybe I should grow a beard and have what they’re having to enjoy BARBU a little bit more.
Big thanks to Hannah Barnett Leveson from The Cornershop.