French-Canadian circus company Cirque Alfonse is a house-hold name for Fringe-lovers after years of wowing us with their world famous show Barbu, a wild musical circus spectacular. Performed by four muscular bearded blokes and their two female acrobats, the 2nd instalment in the Alfonse series Tabarnak takes us on a rebellious religious ride inside the sacred Bonython Hall.
Greeted by a stage full of white-coated performers knitting in bowling shoes, it was clear that Tabarnak was going to push the boundaries…and it did not disappoint! After an audience-wide Mexican wave kicked off proceedings, I was afraid that audience interaction was going to be at the core of their show (and I’m about as flexible as a door so there would be no hoop diving or fire juggling for me). However, this is just a tactic to draw the crowd in – and boy did it work!
The show runs at a swift pace, with longer lasting batteries than energizer, and a three-piece religious folk band whipping them into line (quite literally). A sensory overload, Tabernak is not for the faint-hearted, with unbelievable talent oozing out of every twist and turn. Highlights include dare-devil routines on roller-skates, human pyramids, jaw-dropping rope work and acrobats performing stunts atop tall poles balanced on shoulders (and heads!) all with NO safety net. OH&S nightmare.
Despite repeated crowd ‘wooing’, Tabarnak felt like an explosion of confusion. Although Fringe audiences are accustomed to expect the unexpected, elements such as astrology readings, vertigo-inducing twirling in knitted bell-shaped dresses and even an on-stage baptism, just didn’t quite live up to the hype that surrounds the Montreal troupe!
Although a mismatched performance, the show still has enough aerial displays of brilliance to soak up and festival-goers who prefer their show on the bonkers side (or if you found the time to finish a bottle of wine beforehand) will still enjoy this next instalment of Cirque Alfonse madness!