Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne.
7 January 2018.
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.
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.