/ Cirque Alfonse

BARBU Electro Trad Caberet

Gasp! As a man spins around on roller blades with a woman tied to his beard! Cheer! For performers firing ping pong balls into each others mouths from great distances! Marvel! At a fellow in underpants twirling a beer keg before spraying the contents into his face! Be intrigued! By the mysteriously useless Lucas Jolly – whatever is he up to with that rat? Avert your eyes! From muscular men and women flaunting their bodies in equal-opportunity objectification!

After bursting onto the Adelaide Fringe scene last year, charismatic Quebec troupe Cirque Alfonse has returned for another rendition of their relentlessly entertaining BARBU Electro Trad Caberet showpiece. Think if The Beards ran away and joined a 19th century Montreal circus, and you’re more or less getting the gist of it.

Backed by the driving electro-trad rhythms and French chanting of three piece band David Simard (fiddle), Josianne Laporte (drums) and Andre Gagne (bass), the op-shop-clad acrobats solemnly carry out their function like a hardened squadron of hipster legionnaires. Impeccably directed by Alain Francoeur, BARBU is a joy to behold – a distinctive union of light, sound, strength, humour and showmanship.

The Peacock venue in Gluttony is perhaps a little undersized for this act, with viewing restricted from the back, and the front rows dangerously exposed to the occasional mishaps on stage, but the immediacy does add something. Highly recommended for those who missed it last year, and – although it is but a mild variation on the 2016 edition – still worth checking out even for BARBU veterans.

★★★★