Adelaide Fringe Review: Cirque Alfonse’s Animal

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Diana Carroll, had fabulous fun on the farm with the spectacular Cirque Alfonse.

It’s five years since the last Adelaide Fringe show by Canada’s famed Cirque Alfonse and now they’re back with a wonderful new show set in farmyard where anything is possible. Animal – A Farm Story is a delightful romp through some slightly surreal farmyard fables presented with impeccable circus skills and their delightfully gentle comedic flair.

At the heart of the show is the Cirque Alfonse patriarch Alain Carabinier, a very sprightly and agile 78-year-old and the real-life father of some of the performers. And in a very touching moment, three of the next generation of circus performers ran on stage to join their parents for a very cute farewell at the end of the show. Even the smallest child showed off their fine balancing ability and stage confidence. This show really is a family affair and that genuine warmth and connection shows in everything they do.

Cirque Alfonse’s patriarch Alain Carabinier, a very sprightly and agile 78-year-old

The farm fables turn the farm upside down and the barn inside out. There’s even a baby tractor, driven by Alain, doing wheelies on stage! The storyline is the stuff of fairy tales, with raging mechanical bulls and grumpy rubber chickens and all manner of magic, but all of that is just the icing on top – the real strength of Cirque Alfonse is their incredible presentation of traditional circus skills. This is precise work and tight choreography that takes innate skill, trust in your fellow performers, and endless hours of training and practice to get right. And then to do it all on stage and make it look supremely effortless – amazing stuff!

Balancing high up in the air on the top of a pole that’s being held on the shoulders of another performer? Alain and the others make it look easy. Performing stunning aerial acrobatics with nothing to hold on to and no safety harness? It’s all in a day’s work for Cirque Alfonse. It really is astonishing that they can make these breathtaking routines look so easy. And they all look like they’re having so much fun which makes it more fun for the audience. There’s lively music with an alternative street-busker kind of vibe; a trumpeter with an over-sized milk urn on his head; lots of hilarious physical comedy; and a very funny (and very clever) juggling routine with giant clunky cowbells.

Throughout the show there is so much happening you can’t even keep track of all the tricks. And there’s even old-school balloon animals, made on stage in the blink of an eye. Alain made my 7-year-old Evie very happy when he ran into the audience and presented her with a freshly-made balloon dachshund. And there is a real sense of intimacy with the audience up close in the traditional-style circus big-top tent.

Every element here works together to create a unique and authentic show that is an absolute delight and loved by everyone. Merci, Cirque Alfonse, and please come back soon!

Animal – A Farm Story

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