Question: What’s sexier than a bearded man working a pole? Answer: Four bearded men simultaneously working a pole.
‘BARBU’ – French for ‘bearded’ – is a wild, magical ride, brought to the Fringe by Montreal’s Cirque Alfonse. The show opens with a chain of rollerskating acrobats (attached, of course, by the beard) and culminates in brief nudity, Pirate Life keg-juggling and a happy, beer-spattered audience.
Along the way, we’re treated to an astonishing range of circus acrobatics, all underpinned by a good dose of mischievous tongue-in-cheek humour. From a double-jointed aerial sequence to a cartwheeling human mirror ball in a giant hoop, ‘BARBU’ delivers surprise after visually stunning surprise.
Moments of awe are punctuated by the slapstick adventures of a mystic clown and his shy guinea pig.
The live band alone is something to behold: primal drums roll beneath gypsy-esque violin and guitar parts reminiscent of the Wild West. It’s a nod to traditional Québécois music, updated with driving synth beats that don’t fail to get the crowd clapping.
The show brings laughs, gasps and a lot of tittering, and the feats executed in such a tiny space are astounding. What’s more, the performers look as though they’re having at least as much fun as the audience, whether they’re balancing on each other’s heads metres above the ground or prancing around the stage with fluorescent ribbons.
‘BARBU’ is, at its core, a damn good (and very cheeky) time.