If you love daring and exhilarating circus acts that defy the ordinary and quite simply blow your mind – then you will LOVE Barbaroi. After Dark Theatre and Gasworks Arts Park present this incredible cabaret styled circus act, as apart of The Boardwalk Republic season, taking place during this years Melbourne Fringe Festival. This show is described as “the underbelly of circus” – and it is exactly that!

The performance begins with a soft spotlight up on a very unnerving street character, who lurks just in the shadows as if to appear threatening and evasive. He flicks on the flame of a lighter, looks at it for a few seconds, and then flicks it off, and simultaneously the spotlight disappears and we are left with darkness onstage, unsure of what is to unfold. The audience is unsure of what will take place, but we are definitely eager to find out.

What ensues is fast paced, high-energy show where we meet seven different misfit characters, each with amazingly perfected circus and acrobatic skills. ‘Barbaroi’ is a Greek word that when translated means “barbarians”, however is also described as a sinister and malevolent species of parasites in a fictional book series. The opening sequence is flashes of different characters, with lights snapping on and off all over the stage, so as we see very quickly an acrobatic stunt or circus trick before the shadowy figures disappear once more into the darkness. The acrobatic manoeuvres are coupled with contemporary movement to create seamless progressions across the stage. With the aid of instrumental accompaniment, this sequence builds and builds, enticing and exciting the audience more and more.

The lighting design, as mentioned previously, is extremely precise, snapping on and off in different locations as the performers dart around the stage. Although simple in design, the execution is difficult – and the lighting technician did a fabulous job of keeping the cues tight and capturing the acrobats often mid flight. The lighting design enabled us to really feel as if we were underground, or down in the insalubrious alleyways of a delinquent neighbourhood.

The performers were all outstanding. The cast comprises of four men and three women, all of whom have superior circus and acrobatic skills. Their abilities are truly beyond belief. During the one-hour performance audience members are treated to so many different circus acts, from each of the cast. We see juggling, coupled with contemporary movement which creates a lovely sense of flow and ease to such a difficult skill. Aerialists perform on the Corde Lisse intertwining themselves and then dropping suddenly, using a long rope that hangs from the ceiling. Insane balancing acts, like on top of several cylinders that rock from side to side, or walking along the rims of wine bottles placed in a line. An incredible act utilising a Cyr Wheel, which is like a large metal hoola hoop that one can fit inside and manipulate to spin and rotate. A sassy red headed performer foot juggles, up to five round balls at a time…with HER FEET…and then continues to balance a square table by one of its legs, on the ball of ONE FOOT. Each act is more mind boggling than the last.

The performers make it all look so ridiculously easy, and even when something goes awry, like dropping a ball, or falling out of a balance, they just jump straight back into it.

A thrilling piece that will keep your bum on the edge of your seat and your chin pinned to the floor. Playing at Gasworks until the October 3rd. Get amongst it!

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