CabaretCircusEast AngliaFestivals

Barbu – Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Reviewer: Lu Greer

Performers: Cirque Alfonse

For seventeen days each May, The Norfolk and Norwich Festival transforms public spaces, streets, performance venues, parks, forests, and beaches into the home of music, theatre, literature, dance, and more. The aim of the festival is to bring people together to experience the bold, the unusual, and the inspirational. Found in the Adnams’ Spiegeltent within the festival gardens, Cirque Alfonse has arrived with their show Barbu, which certainly embodies precisely what the festival is all about.

Cirque Alfonse melds the old with the new in this unusual circus. The French-Candian troupe is a riot of colour, beards, and bare skin as they delve into the origins of the circus from the beginning of the 20th century. The show, which translates literally to ‘bearded man’ eschews what we now consider the traditional lithe circus performer instead presenting us with bigger, bolder performers who add extra weight to the death-defying tricks (without a safety net in sight).

During the show, we are presented with demonstrations of strength, roller skating, beard pulling, magic tricks, and even an exceptionally well-trained hamster in a show which almost defies explanation. Throughout the performance, whenever the audience feels that they have the show sussed and know what to expect, another outrageous feat is brought into the mix. Backed throughout by a frenetic trad-electro band which drives the performance and draws in the audience, the show doesn’t let up for a single moment from start to end.

This show is hilarious, and it is nerve-wracking. It is cabaret, and it is circus. It is hipster-chic, and it is thoroughly traditional. It is entirely unlike any other show at this festival, and it is altogether unmissable.

Runs Until: 29 May 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Altogether Unmissable

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The Reviews Hub - South East

The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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