Barbu @ London Wonderground Review

Barbu is a thrilling take on circus, applying folk ensemble and soundtrack, this show provides joyful entertainment. Cirque Alfonse are fresh, young and innovative, amalgamating a culturally centred premise to an obscure set of skills. Skilfully presented for London Wonderground, Barbu makes you applaud, giggle and even blush, in a colourful production of prowess. A show that is breathtaking, visually dynamic and thoroughly up-lifting.

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Presented within a wonderfully aesthetic circus tent, this show feels right at home, although its original home is halfway across the globe. Cirque Alfonse is a young circus company from Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez in the province of Quebec, established in 2005. A troupe that has produced several shows before Barbu, their loveable persona and troupe dynamic is undeniable. However, their youth is present within the show and this can be seen in the nerve riddled shake that embodies many of their cast members. This is a factor that is ever present within the circus, however it becomes unnerving, particularly in this show, to watch as an audience member. As a thrill seeker, I love risks being taken in shows and encourage it, but even for me the shakes were unsettling, that being said the enchanting charisma oozes and engages, overriding fear and worry.

Barbu is all about exploring the circus, looking back at what it was in the past and seeing what it has become today.’ The production evaluates the essence of circus, casting a light on the witnessing of spectacle and the enjoyment that succeeds this form of entertainment. This production focuses on the human state and the virtual realities that exist beyond our entity, exploring ‘the feeling of profound human ecstasy behind every spectator’.

An ensemble of circus artists, this show strikes a balance between risk, beauty and absurdity, under the direction of Alain Francoeur, what this show lacks in steadiness it gains in character, pace and humour. Carrying with it a cargo of authentic entertainment and amusement, Barbu journeys through a series of skilful acts all enticingly beautifully. In a cast of eleven, there are six acrobats, one mentalist and four musicians. An original soundtrack accompanies this spectacular performance, available to purchase after the show, with the ability to take the circus home in your handbag. This production is entirely immersive with each audience member engaging with the aesthetic of the circus. It is a show of many skills, applying varied design elements to enhance the action of the performance, including music, lighting, costume and audience interaction.

It is a presentation of colour, talent and a pinch of naughtiness, bums and boobs included. This show is energetic and full on, although it needs some more confidence, especially in those high stunts and formations. I look forward to seeing where this undeniably talented and frivolous circus troupe develop, I look to the future with keen eyes. I leave the production wanting to wear the amazing disco ball costume, inspired, awe-struck and moreover happy from the show presented before me. 4/5

Review written by Meg Mattravers.

Barbu is currently showing at the London Wonderground until Sunday 25th September. For more information on the production, visit here…

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