Underbelly Productions and Aurora Nova Present A SIMPLE SPACE: GRAVITY AND OTHER MYTHS, Now thru July 6
"Roll up, roll up!" cries the Ringmaster, red hunter tails clashing with the garishly-striped Big Top, through the doors of which a pratfall of clowns can be seen pelting cream pies at a monkey in a cage while a morose bearded lady attempts to cram herself into a cannon...
The word 'Circus' can be guilty of conjuring vivid images of glitzy pomp and ceremony. But this summer, a new kind of spectacle is set to wipe these preconceptions from the artistic landscape, leaving behind only seven hypnotic, beguiling, magnetic performers in A Simple Space.
We're talking about Gravity and Other Myths, a troupe from Australia whose unique close-up acrobatic show A Simple Space has been booked for a six-week season (today, 30 May - 6 July 2014) at the Udderbelly Festival on the South Bank (10 April -13 July), having astounded Fringe audiences in both hemispheres in 2013. Edinburgh and Adelaide Festival goers have turned up in their droves, bought up every ticket and unfailingly given standing ovations. Now, Londoners, it's over to you.
The simple space in question is a 6.5m x 4m black mat with seats on three sides set mere inches away from the cast and the action. It's all very intimate and pleasant and touchy-feely and sounds rather nice. But, particular moments in "Gravity and other Myths" are near-suicidal, terrifying and just plain dangerous.
The seven performers (five men and two women) stack themselves into towers, turn themselves into human skipping ropes, sling each other into the rafters, somersault and tumble on the spot, invite the audience to pelt them with brightly-coloured plastic balls, and wind their bodies into improbably bone-bending counter-balanced shapes and structures which defy logic, belief and human morphology. But the true joy is its exhilarating simplicity.
This is stripped-back, no props, no wires, in your face, world-class acrobatic action happening a hair's-breadth and a heartbeat away from the audience. You will gasp in astonishment, recoil in apprehension, sigh in relief, smile in wonder, laugh in bafflement, and applaud in instinct as you witness "Gravity and Other Myths" go about their work in cheerful good spirits, displaying an insouciance and casual joie de vivre.
For those disenchanted with pretentious arena-scale, over-produced, Disneyfied circus extravaganzas, this is the ultimate back-to-its-roots antidote: Seven people, one large mat, some drums and a bottomless well of agility, bravery, showmanship, wit and athletic talent.
What do the reviewers say? Well, words like "amazing", "incredible", "breathtaking", "perfection", and "astonishing" are standard currency. The Guardian's Alex Needham, a self-confessed grumpy old man when it comes to most matters circus was moved to remark, "You haven't lived until you've seen two blokes stand on each other's shoulders then suspend a woman, Jascha Boyce, on a pole between them."
What better endorsement could there be? So bring out your favourite circus curmudgeons, take them down to the South Bank, stick them in A Simple Space and see their perceptions about this art form shattered in just 60 minutes.
Underbelly Productions and Aurora Nova present
'A Simple Space'
Gravity & Other Myths
Udderbelly Festival, Southbank Centre
Tuesday - Friday: 19:30
Saturday: 14:30 and 18:00
Booking period 30 May - 06 July (previews until 03 June)
Tickets: £12.50, £16.50, £18.00
Tickets available from:
Telephone: 0844 545 8282 (Lines open 9am - 8pm, 7 days a week)
In person: Southbank Centre Box office