Review by Giselle Bueti
“I don’t know what the hell I just watched, but my god it was beautiful.”
This was the reaction of most spectators as they filtered out of the panama tent after witnessing the spellbinding experience that was BARBU Electro Trad Cabaret. Elegant aerial hoop tricks, thrilling acrobats and strong man stunts mixed with glorious beards, sexual pole dancing, a very strange ‘mentalist’ and the occasional genital; Barbu is like no other.
Hailing from Montreal, this French Canadian collection involves a showcase of circus skills set alongside a frenetic electro-trad band and extremely strange digital visuals. The routines mirror traditional late 19th/early 20th century circus tricks but are intertwined with modern elements. One minute burly men are pulling each other along on rollerblades by their beards, the next two women are being tossed around in the air like dolls. All the while a band is singing French hymns and a bald man in a white dress is constantly lurking in the background.
The band, which consists of a mustached ringmaster on synths, a bearded jack-tar on guitar and a femme fatale on drums, are a show within themselves. The electric synths, haunting Gallic hymns and Gameboy like techno sounds, perfectly compliment the bizarre actions on stage. This, alongside the screens flashing pictures of rivers and forests in Quebec (as well as the occasional bearded naked man dancing in a field), gives the show a strong folk like identity and creates a world away from reality.
The small injections of comedy, such as the running joke of the balancing golf clubs, the acrobatic guinea pig and the sometimes-double-headed mentalist, also help to string the show along and creates a balance between weird and fun.
Barbu Electro Trad Cabaret is something different. Even if physical theatre isn’t your thing or the bizarreness of it all just sounds like too much, you should still see this show. It will have you scratching your heard and unable to look away. Also beards. Such great beards.
BARBU Electro Trad Cabaret will continue at Royal Croquet Club until March 14.
Tickets available here