A Simple Space
Every once in a while when in the audience watching something amazingly cool, there comes a little slip up. The singer misses a note, the second serve goes into the net, the juggler drops a ball. Some might even say that’s what auto racing fans are waiting for – the small mistake.
Australian circus company Gravity & Other Myths had a few tiny glitches in their Wednesday night Underbelly Festival show, and in a way, it made me like it even more.
The Festival is happening in a lovely flower-covered temporary picnic spot adjacent to London’s Southbank, but enter the tent and it is stripped back theatre. You sit in the semi-dark and watch these amazing gymnastic performers, possibly close enough that you can see them sweat (they mostly don’t), so close you could throw things at them (and you get to!). In between making personal resolutions to get back to yoga class starting next week, I promise, you catch their looks out of eye-corners and subtle company signals that make G&OM work in perfect harmony, and you sip your wine and marvel.
So,when they accidentally prove they are human, and one toss-and-catch is not as clean as it could be, you actually care. My friend and I were hiding our eyes occasionally as Ashleigh Pearce or one of the other no-fear-of-heights gang climbed up her teammates into the rafters. You can tell that though the peformers have put in countless hours of practice and are a finely tuned seven-person-organism, at the end of the night, probably over beers, they are just seven cheerful Australians in amazingly good shape.
A Simple Space
The show is simple, with no stagecraft and only a running theme of competition between the troupe. Who can hold their breath the longest, do the longest handstand, and most cheekily, who can keep from tripping up on the jumprope? We all enjoyed that little vignette, boys.
The jumps, twirls and daredevil manouevring always is done with a can-do, what a laugh attitude, and is oaccompanied by drummer Alex Flood, who sits off stage providing an electronic score of which I wanted even more.
There is very little here that could not have been done to entertain crowds 50, or 250 years ago (barring a few public indecency charges), it is indeed a very simple space they fill, and that’s what makes it pure, and pure fun. Bring the kids and sit in the first three rows if you can.
Underbelly Festival and Gravity and Other Myths present “A Simple Space”, at London’s Southbank through May 5th, 2019
featured image credit: Chris Herzfeld
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.