Tabarnak (4 stars)

This article is from 2018


credit: Audric Gagnon

Cirque Alfronse return with another dose of great circus acrobatics and music

Cirque Alfonse are from a small village in Québec, and Tabarnak is inspired by the church services they went to when they were growing up. The word 'tabarnak' or tabernacle, like many other Catholic words, is also a swear word in Québécois, so their religious theme is obviously not going to be a very holy one.

The set has lots of nostalgic bric-a-brac dotted about; there are old fashioned snow shoes, skis and ice hockey shin guards under the stained glass window beaming colours down from high up in the big top. The retro theme continues with a dance routine in bowling shoes, then an impressive bit on roller skates, where bodies get swung about by their feet and necks.

The show-off stuff continues with elaborate aerial acrobatics, backflips on a very narrow beam, and quickly builds up into a tall human spire. Catholic incense burners on chains are swung about in a synchronised routine and the multi-talented women get to do lots of badass things like cracking bullwhips and carrying the (equally multi-talented) men, rather than just posing about.

Music is also a key ingredient, with a live band playing bluesy guitar or traditional Québécois folk tunes, with one musician step dancing (or doingla gigue as it's called) under his keyboard for added percussion. Josianne Laporte also adds the beautifully odd sound of a bowed saw, and there are nonsense readings of horoscopes and Latin gibberish from the pulpit to add to the strange charms of this blasphemously good piece of circus.

Circus Hub, until 25 Aug, 7pm.


  • 4 stars

Underbelly and Cirque Alfonse A celebration of Heaven and Hell and everything in between! Cirque Alfonse, the creators that brought you the five-star, Fringe 2015 sell-out hit Barbu, return with a brand-new show. Daring, raucous, eccentric and downright fun, Tabarnak combines edge-of-your-seat circus with crazy cabaret…