Barbu: “It’s a family business”

The fundamentals of Barbu are based on the cabaret and circus performers who Antoine saw as a child. “Big bearded guys doing circus stuff – a lot of tricks,” he says.

When I speak to Antoine Carabinier of Adelaide Fringe show Barbu, it’s over the phone, and my Aussie ears struggle to make out what he’s saying through his thick Québécois accent. Did he really just say he was in a desert? “Yes! We are in a car, crossing the desert of Nevada,” he confirms. “We’re going to Salt Lake city for a show.” When we speak, he’s due to be in Adelaide for the Fringe in just a couple of days, performing an entirely different act. In Adelaide, he’s a part of of Barbu Electro-Trad Cabaret. The show can boast comfortably that it has the most striking of all the posters decorating our city – burly men with long beards in black speedos, pole-dancing together. That there’s a wild, ‘electro’ side of Barbu is pretty apparent from the visuals – but where does the ‘trad’ come into it? “We try to keep alive the traditional music”, says Antoine. “Our musicians are some of the best at playing traditional Québécois music. It’s our culture and we want to keep it in our show.” The fundamentals of Barbu are based on the cabaret and circus performers who Antoine saw as a child. “Big bearded guys doing circus stuff – a lot of tricks,” he says. There are some obvious changes though. “It goes crazy in every direction. Stuff that you’ve never seen before,” he says. He’s tentative to give away what that entails, but does tip that at one point “we juggle with a keg of beer. We’re really close to the audience, so it’s fun for them to be in the show as well.” The troupe is actually a family affair too. “In Barbu is my brother in law and my girlfriend. It’s a family business,” says Antoine. He also frequently performs with his sister, father and nephew.  Still, from an audience point of view, is it ‘fun for the whole family’? “It’s not really shocking – it’s playful. I mean,” he pauses, “there’s a bit of nudity… but nothing excessive!” The troupe have been performing Barbu for two years, on and off, alternating with the other show they’re taking to Salt Lake City. It’s called Timber, and celebrates lumberjacks. It’s just as well they’re taking the show with the nudity to Adelaide – you don’t want to be doing cardio in flannelette in a hot tent in 45 degree heat. In some ways the show is similar to Barbu, but in more obvious, naked ways it’s different. “We still want to have similar, traditional Québécois music, but in Barbu we mix that with electronic music.” Still, the goal for both shows is traditional constant throughout time, from Canada, to Nevada, to little old Adelaide: “People drink during the show,” he says. “It’s a place where people come after work to forget everything else and just have fun.” Barbu Electro Trad Cabaret Panama Club, Royal Croquet Club Now until Monday, 14 March

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