★★★★ | Barbu
What can be better on a rainy summer night in London than sitting in an atmospheric, mirror lined, wooden tent (once graced by Marlene Dietrich) and watching a troupe of hairy male acrobats strip down to their skimpy pants? Not much if you ask me. I quite like a hairy man in black pants. Cirque Alfonse have returned to London Wonderground after their hit show “Timber!” with another testosterone-fuelled show of daring circus skills. “Barbu” is absurd, silly and above all entertaining.
Accompanied by a live band, who set the tone with a throbbing and dirty soundtrack, they roller skate, backflip and form human pyramids. The awkward yet thrilling dancing is a site to behold and there’s more perineum and hairy thigh flashed onstage than in a night in a backroom in Playa Del Ingles. Naturally they’re not just pieces of gristly, fleshy meat with beards (but oh what flesh). They’re also consummate performers who are self-mocking and raucously funny at times. Whilst not the most thrilling of circus shows around, there are moments that set the audience’s pulses racing. It’s also an incredibly raunchy show, provided dirty and sweaty gets you off. There’s a moment of pure beauty when they set a whole new standard of pole dancing with an ensemble horizontal twirl. It’s a wry and witty piece that’s good (if not clean) fun.
The show starts a little too slowly and although there’s nothing limp about these men there’s the occasional flaccid moment in the first half hour or so. Prepare to be wowed when it warms up though. There’s real skill here and whilst the movements are less balletic than gruff bearish male strutting and lumbering this just adds to their charm. The physical performances are definitely spectacular too.
The Southbank’s Wonderground is a stylish funfair themed go to venue for early evening drinks and there’s a frenetic feel to this show that mixes well with alcohol and groups of friends. It’s not hard to see why this show was such a hit in Edinburgh last year.
Reviewed by Chris Bridges, follow on Twitter