A CONTEMPORARY circus, A Simple Space thrived in front of a home crowd in the Grand Auditorium.
The group of talented, young performers take strength training and acrobatics to new heights with their less is more creative approach.
The ensemble not only wowed young and old with intense, jaw-dropping acts that had the audience on the edge of their seats — but also had them in fits of laughter with streaks of comedic play and competitiveness.
The camaraderie among the performers was also a joy to watch throughout the show which boasts a great soundtrack.
A Simple Space is a truly inspiring and entertaining performance that everyone should see — confirmed by standing ovations at the conclusion of the show.
Having seen circus troupe Gravity & Other Myths perform Backbone at Melbourne Festival last year, there was much anticipation about seeing their debut show, A Simple Space, during its return season to Melbourne. While both shows exhibiting incredible creativity and skill, it’s the absence of any elaborate concept and design that were present in Backbone that allows A Simple Space to blow you away.
The show is stripped off most props, lighting effects and other elements with only a black mat roughly four metres wide and six metres deep set up on stage. With our attention ultimately glued towards the seven acrobats, they work with the only thing that’s left: each other. They demonstrate surprising feats on what the human body is capable of, through a variety of acts. At one point, one performer jumps on bodies lying on the floor, the gap getting bigger and bigger with each successive jump. The highlight though, comes during the ‘swinging’ act with two people swinging another between them by their hands and feet. The speed and various ways in which this is executed is almost beyond comprehension.
Intermixed with these acts is some friendly rivalry as the acrobats compete against each other in short challenges, like who can skip the fastest or how long it takes someone to solve a Rubicks Cube – but all come with an added twist that make it highly enjoyable to see what happens next.
Even with its minimal aesthetic, music still plays an integral role in this show with Elliot Zoerner composing some perfectly suited beats and rhythms to each act. Zoerner joins in a number of acts during the show but his body percussion is something that needs to be seen and heard. His placement on stage is a reminder that a show is made up of many people and not just the people on the stage.
What is great to see in Gravity & Other Myths that isn’t often seen in other circus or performance shows is the personalities that come through and the camaraderie shared. While we are seeing a show, there is a sincerity and openness present where it’s very clear that these people love what they do and are having a great time doing it, which in turns allows the audience to enjoy the show even more.
A Simple Space is a simply marvellous circus show that entertains and engages you throughout. There’s plenty here to make you laugh and be amazed by the talent on display in the unique style that Gravity & Other Myths is bringing to the world of circus.
This review has been translated from Dutch to English.
The program of the Circus City Festival calls Gravity & Other Myths ‘the festival hit from Australia’. That can be right: give the group a dress of four by five meters and the acrobats show beautiful arts. Strong in timing, body control, presentation and also sympathetic.
Gravity & Other Myths is an eight-strong group, two women and a drummer. They start in a row behind the carpet. One runs forward and calls ‘falling’. Then one or a few others come forward to catch the one who falls or to break the trap in another inventive way. It all looks casual, but the timing is very precise.
They hardly need attributes. A wooden block with hand posts, some strings, a few boxes with balls that the audience can throw to the playing surface. And there is a horizontal bar, but it is held by two people standing on the shoulders of a colleague.
Very clever is the way in which the group increases the tension and involves the public even more in the action: by organizing competitions. Who will last the longest: the man who holds his breath, or the woman who is standing on her hands? Who makes the most somersaults from the back? (The best one gets at least twenty.) Can you solve a Rubik’s cube while standing on your head? Something as simple as skipping rope becomes exciting when the men are constantly stepping up the speed and the first one has to take off a piece of clothing.
The excellent acrobats of Gravity & Other Myths build beautiful towers, find surprising equilibriums, jumping from back to back, are completely compatible with each other and are extremely sympathetic. They compliment each other on the performance and have visible pleasure in it. Perhaps that has to do with the culture of the country. Compare Masterchef Australia with Masterchef America: the Australian chefs award each other their delicious dishes, those of America stick their knife in each other’s backs instead of in an aubergine, if only they win.
At the end of the performance you know that gravity is not a myth at all – otherwise the performance would not be that complicated and impressive – but that few people are as good friends with it as these acrobats.
Adelaide’s Gravity & Other Myths transform a plain black mat into a joyous playground; the acrobatic ensemble colours their world with their smiles, their skills and their impish desire to compete, all while backed by live percussion.
By show’s end, you will be teleported to that simple place, childhood, where wonder abounded.
‘A Simple Space’ is a little like watching gym class at Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters. They use skipping ropes, compete in backflip beep tests, play leap frog. Each student has a seemingly mutant ability: Mieke Lizotte merges flexibility with strength and immense lung capacity; Lachlan Harper leaps vast distances in a single bound while simultaneously landing as lightly as a feather; Lachlan Binns cracks a Rubik’s Cube while balanced on his head. They compete against each other like school kids at lunch time; instead of who can eat the most chocolate, it is who can cradle an audience member in their arms for the longest. At points, it becomes akin to watching the Winter Olympics; you develop attachment and barrack for your preferred artist.
While watching the acrobats compete is entertaining, it is when they work as a team that the most stunning moments occur. With so much circus around at Fringe time, it is easy to become desensitised to the danger. The height of Gravity’s bodily constructions and the momentum of their throws will challenge the apathy of the most jaded circus critic. Through it all, genuine grins blaze from the faces of the performers, and comedy infuses almost every moment. Gravity & Other Myths make the extraordinary appear simple.
Have you experienced the kind of kinaesthetic empathy that makes you gasp when you watch a gravity-defying trick? The Melbourne audience for A Simple Space were enraptured: gasping, cheering, guffawing without inhibition. This is contemporary circus at its very best.
Gravity and Other Myths is fantastic at spare theatrical form; the company creates compelling frames where the tricks they perform are no longer just tricks but examples of human relationships. You could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a group of best mates playing drinking games behind an outback pub, except the extreme physical virtuosity and comic timing reveals their profession as internationally acclaimed performing artists.
The set is a simple square of grey carpet, small enough to represent, perhaps, the size of a hotel room. The four lighting trees in each corner are adjusted by the performers to light each scene. Composer and musician Elliot Zoerner scores the work, with a mixture of percussion and live electronic looping. He is also recruited to perform in some of the acts. Indeed, Zoerner performs a most brilliant act of body percussion.
A Simple Space is full of challenges and team rivalry: competitive drills, games of skipping without tripping on the rope where the loser must strip an item of clothing, and handstand balancing competitions in which the audience can throw balls at the competitors to make them fall over. The performers don’t conceal the effort it takes to produce the acrobatics; they don’t obscure the breathlessness the acrobat feels at the end of a massive act. In fact, they make performance games out of it. We all know a wildcard risk taker, boldly asserting that they can win any game. Gravity and Other Myths’s larrikin aesthetics and irrepressible mischievousness make the group so Australian, and so lovable.
If you haven’t seen Gravity and Other Myths yet, you must. It is so much fun.