Barbu, Southbank

Every summer merriment and circus talent arrives on the Southbank to contribute to the weird and wonderful Wonderland programme. This year Cirque Alfonse from Montreal presents a wacky show which explores the origins of circus performing and curious eccentricities.

Barbu on Southbank

The company describe Barbu as ‘Electro trad cabaret’, a show which combines dry humour with astonishing circus performances. The cast is made up of four bearded men, two strong and flexible ladies and (a rather unnecessary) older man, used as the brunt of many of the show’s jokes.

Barbu which translates to ‘bearded’ is a patchwork of acts, which the team perform on a small circular stage surrounded by audience. It is a petite platform for many of the tricky routines, whether its on roller skates, precariously balanced human towers or aerial acrobatics. Sitting alarmingly close to the performers I often felt we, as the audience, could be most at risk of an act toppling over the edge of the stage.

There are some motifs in the show, which I just didn’t get. A hamster is a recurring theme, carrying around the stage frequently for no reason I could understand. And nudity plays an irrelevant and unfunny part in the storyline. Despite this I found circus performances exhilarating and exciting, especially with the feel-good accompaniment from the live on stage band.

Barbu runs at London Wonderland until 25 September, book tickets here.

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