Cirque Alfonse – Tabarnak: Adelaide Fringe

A whip. A gradually inflating condom. Raucous cheers and laughter.

Yep, you’ve found your way into ‘Tabarnak’.

French-Canadian revelations of physical theatre, Cirque Alfonse, have returned to the Adelaide Fringe, bringing with them their brand new show that cheekily translates to a commonly used colloquial profanity.

With influences of a Quebecian church, Tabarnak is ‘a celebration of heaven and hell’, where the stage design—think pews and stained glass windows—is imperative to the acrobatics. The loosely fitted, robe-like shirts seem to follow the religious theme and certainly looked the part.

Tabarnak is as much a live music performance as it is a circus act, with three supremely talented musicians perched above a half-dozen acrobats while they impress with strength, flexibility, and precision. You’ll probably never look at a pair of roller skates the same.

To the credit of the band, their mesmerising beats are almost a distraction to the main event, where the keys, violin, double bass and electric guitar all enrich the percussion. In times where you thought that this group couldn’t be more talented, you’ll be surprised by the impressive number of acrobats who also double as vocalists—further enhancing this rhythmic, riff-filled, toe-tapping ensemble.

In a show where the bar is set so high (no pun intended), the only real, albeit minor criticisms relate to a couple of short theatrical pieces, such as a bizarre dance in a sleeveless woollen one piece and an astrology reading. While these are likely intermediary distractions to allow for backstage prep, the scenes seemed to fall short of their potential.

Overall, however, Cirque Alfonse has garnered an impressive reputation within the Adelaide Fringe as one of the reliable, high-end performances. Where choices are aplenty, Tabarnak does not disappoint for an energetic night of awe.

★★★★1/2   4.5/5 stars

Tabarnak is playing in The Peacock at Gluttony, every night until the 18th March (excluding Mondays). Tickets available online or at The Fringe Box Office. 

Image: Cirque Alfonse Facebook

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