An ensemble of five weave together in a back alley of grunge and industrial chaos. Without a specific narrative, there are themes of the underworld, street gangs, solidarity and survival conveyed through a series of tightly choreographed routines.

Barbaroi is the Greek word for an outsider, someone who doesn’t fit in, an essence conveyed throughout this show as life on the outskirts; it’s an insight into the grittier side of a city.

The usual mix of aerial ropes, juggling, acrobatics, cyr wheel and strength are stripped back to bare talent that has nowhere to hide. With no sequins or disco music to distract, there is an authenticity on stage that draws the audience into the performance. Barbaroi is intimate and emotive.

The atmosphere is set through stark lighting and a soundtrack that marries punk, electronic and, surprisingly, a bit of swing. Music and light are a real feature throughout, providing a structure for the performers to move within.

The attitude, however, comes from the ensemble on stage. Characters are held tight, with body language and facial expressions speaking volumes. Intensity and conflict are balanced out with camaraderie and connection. There are themes that both evoke emotion and create a distance and curiosity.

Human bodies are pushed to the limit. There is nothing elegant or effortless about the routines, with the shows of strength, resistance and grit not hidden behind showmanship.

Bodies fly through the air, balance on narrow panes, are lifted, thrown and stretched. Coordination, choreography and tricks skillfully mastered are all on display. It’s intense and chaotic, but the overwhelming essence of the show is the tension created as a whole body of work.

Barbaroi feels dangerous and edgy in a genre that has edged towards glamour. Raw talent and a generosity towards abstract storytelling may not leave you ecstatic but it will leave you feeling fulfilled.

Barbaroi is playing at Wonderland Spiegeltent Festival Hub  until March 21.

Read more Adelaide Fringe reviews and previews  here.


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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.