One of the things about living in London is how often something is on that you never get around to seeing. For example, the Udderbelly Festival has been running on the South Bank since 2009 and until yesterday, I had only ever passed by the site on my way to the West End. So, when I was asked to review a show at the festival I thought ‘why not?’ However, as someone that is really not keen on circuses, when I was told the show I was going to see was circus ensemble Gravity and Other Myths show “A Simple Space” I wasn’t really that enthusiastic. An hour of, what the programme calls, ‘non-stop, mind-boggling feats of breathtaking acrobatics.’ really didn’t sound like my cup of tea at all.
Obviously, as so often happens in these cases, I was completely wrong, and had a thoroughly wonderful time watching as this seven strong team of young Australians (Triton Tunis-Mitchell, Lachlan Binns, Martin Schreiber, Jacob Randell, Rhiannon Cave-Walker, Daniel Liddiard and Simon McClure) demonstrated their mastery of the acrobatic craft in ways I have never encountered before. “A Simple Space” really does what it says on the tin. When you enter the big purple cow, all you have is a stage with some lights fixed on poles at each side. Once the team enter, they manipulate the lights themselves to illuminate each segment of the show, starting from what I was reliably informed was a standard of drama lessons ‘Falling’ building the show up through some amazing feats of acrobatic skill to a truly breathtaking finale.There was a lot of humour along the way as the team tested themselves and each other in games of skill and stamina – how long can you hold your breath for? Not long enough – and there was some very active and enthusiastic audience participation in a segment that involved headstands and spherical objects flying through the air. Elliot Zoerner’s musical accompaniment was spot on and worked superbly with every aspect of the show, adding to the atmosphere of, not to put too fine a point on it, mind-blowing awesomeness,
I really don’t want to give too much away about this masterpiece of a show but various moments really stick out in my mind, such as the skipping competition with everything to play for, and there was the Rubik’s Cube. I have never been able to master one of these things, but I watched a man complete it in the most amazing way possible – and I wasn’t jealous of him at all, honest. The longer I watched the show, the more I started seeing the similarities to ballet or other forms of contemporary dance. Meticulously choreographed, and involving total trust between each member of a team that really seemed at times to move and think as one. The two art forms, dance and acrobatics have much in common with each other.
From where I was sat, it was obvious everyone on the stage was having the time of their lives and really threw themselves into to the competitive elements of the show, congratulating the winner and helping each other continually – in one case going beyond above and beyond the call of duty to save an innocent man’s blushes. At the end, an hour had gone by unnoticed as I sat spellbound, either with my heart in my mouth of clapping wildly, and as the crowd rose to give Gravity and Other Myths a well-deserved standing ovation, I was up there with them wishing I had paid just that little bit more attention in Gym class.
On until late May, “A Simple Space” was a wonderful introduction to the Udderbelly Festival for me, and next time I’m around the South Bank I will definitely be popping in enjoy the ambience of the festival area – where there are some great places to eat and drink – and maybe take another glimpse into the interior of the big purple cow once more.
Review by Terry Eastham
A Simple Space by Gravity & Other Myths tonight at the Udderbelly.
A Simple Space
Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
Running Time: 1 hour
Show Opened: 21st Apr 2015
Booking Until: 24th May 2015
Latecomers may not be admitted.
Tuesday to Friday 7.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 6.00pm