Review: A Simple Space

DAVID WALKER/The Press

Australian dance company 'Gravity & Other Myths' pulled a crowd of people to a pop-up performance of acrobatic skill at Christchurch Airport.

A Simple Space

Charles Luney Auditorium, St Margaret's College

Runs until Sunday September 13.

Australian acrobatic troupe Gravity & Other Myths put on an impromptu performance in Christchurch International Airport ...
David Walker

Australian acrobatic troupe Gravity & Other Myths put on an impromptu performance in Christchurch International Airport on Thursday. The acrobats wowed people waiting for their baggage with extraordinary feats of circus skill. The team's show A Simple Space runs until Sunday as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival.

Reviewed by Charlie Gates.

I don't think I have been to many shows where I have spontaneously whooped.

A Simple Space is the kind of show where the acrobatic stunts are so astonishing that you can't really control your reaction. And I wasn't alone. The audience were there with me, whooping and gasping with each new turn of skill.

Australian acrobatic show A Simple Space opened at the Christchurch Arts Festival on Wednesday night.
David Walker

Australian acrobatic show A Simple Space opened at the Christchurch Arts Festival on Wednesday night.

Australian ensemble Gravity & Other Myths have stripped the false pomp and bombast from traditional acrobatics to create something fresh and exciting. The eight performers, including a live drummer, bring a young, friendly and casual feel to the performance.

There is a genuine feeling of camaraderie among the performers as they laugh and smile with each other between stunts. 

And there is a playfulness to their routines that makes them feel like those childhood games that slowly escalated into greater and greater acts of daring. But, unlike childhood, these games do not end in tears, but smiles and applause from the audience. 

But the show's playful tone and patina of hipster stylings are incidental, the main attraction here is a series of genuinely dazzling acrobatic feats. The performers stand three high on each other's heads, tumble into each other's arms and form human staircases for each other to climb.

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At one point, this reviewer was dragged on stage with half a dozen others for a bit of audience participation. We all lay on our backs in a circle with our heads pointing towards the middle while a woman did handstands on poles above us. It was a strange sensation to look up from the ground at someone doing a handstand above you. It felt like sitting at the edge of a deep swimming pool and watching someone swim up towards you.

But these extraordinary acts of poise and grace were not treated with any pretension. The stunts may require years of training and focus, but they are rattled off brightly and quickly. Unlike the grave and suspenseful tone of traditional circus acrobatics, this is a witty, playful and fast-paced celebration of the human body.

It is a celebration that feels perfectly suited to a family audience. The child next to me in the audience was on his feet in rapt fascination for much of the show.

The unpretentious staging also helps the fresh feel of this show. The audience is on three sides, while the performers operate the simple lighting on stands at each corner of the square performance space. The live drummer also makes the performance feel more dynamic and organic.

It all contributes to the feeling that this is a funky and dynamic performance.

This is a perfectly pitched one hour festival show that won a well deserved standing ovation at the finale.

 - Stuff

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