Barbu is, I daresay, the most fun night out in London right now. I would defy anyone to not have a raucous and riotous evening in the Spiegeltent at the London Wondergroud watching this joyful display of acrobatics and alternativeness.
Hailing from Quebec, Circus Alfonse revels in its beards, its bendiness and its sheer unapologetic and infectious humour, with near-death-defying stunts, that had my life flashing before my eyes at least twice, coupled with more sedate set-pieces that are nonetheless mindblowing and cackle-worthy.
The show starts with a reeling roller-skating segment, ending with acrobats Genevieve Morin and Antoine Carabinier Lépine performing, (for those familiar with the TV show Dancing on Ice), the headbanger.
Carabinier Lépine later spins wildly in a hoop across the stage, dressed in nothing but a disco ball over his midsection, which sums up this silly yet impressive show to a tee.
Whilst there’s nothing particularly opulent or grand about Barbu (the performers, though madly talented, don’t appear to take themselves seriously), it is nonetheless exhilarating to watch. Even in the slightly more breathable moments with mentalist Lucas Jolly, whose presence seems merely to unsettle the audience, there is fun to be had.
There’s keg throwing whilst stood on top of three other men; there’s aerial hoop acrobatics, with performer Genevieve Gauthier spinning so fast, the audience themselves are dizzy; and there’s a marvellous moment where an acrobat tumbles through the air with a tray of shots, and manages not to spill a precious drop.
A special mention should also be made for the amazing musical accompaniment, full of French folkiness, with particularly notable percussion and trombone playing by the wonderful Josianne Laporte.
As exciting as it is funny, and just that little bit sexy, Barbu has everything a circus-goer could want and more. Juggling, tumbling, contortionism and just what constitutes as more, I’ll leave to your imagination.
Reviewed by Laura Stanley
BARBU plays at the London Wonderground until 25 September 2016