A Simple Space
Gravity & Other Myths @ The Birdcage
4:00pm, Sat 9 Mar 2013
It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Gravity & Other Myths – I saw them very early in their careers, and was completely blown away. They’re a great bunch, too – very friendly and approachable, always happy to chat with a fan, and many times I’ve wished them every success as they’ve developed.
So it was a no-brainer when I discovered that I could see a matinée of their new show on my birthday – the stars certainly aligned for that one. And I was super excited to be in the front row of the U-shaped seating plan; right on the top corner of the square matted area with great viewing angles back to the wall at the rear of the stage.
The Gravity & Other Myths crew – a little lighter in number since I last saw Freefall – strolled almost casually out to the centre of the mats, knowing smiles on faces and skipping ropes in hands. They start skipping, faster and faster and faster… until one clips themselves with the rope. They all stop, still smiling, and the substandard skipper removes an item of clothing. They start again, and continue their game of strip-skipping until one of the lads – clad only in his jocks – is forced to go to the back of The Birdcage. He faces away from us, removes the underwear, and does ten skips naked.
It’s a ridiculously good-natured start to the show, and I’m completely smitten with GOM all over again.
But then comes the more physically engaging acrobatics… and oh my fucking god it’s incredible. Jascha is swung and thrown between the boys with a complete lack of inhibition, her body whizzing past the audience wrapped around the mat. There’s a piece where everybody enters into a grapple, torsos and limbs enmeshed in a human knot, and Jascha crawls all around the mass without ever touching the ground… I’ve never seen anything like it before, and it’s amazing. And then there’s a stunning human staircase, where Jascha walks from the mat, onto cupped hands, bent knees, then shoulders; the boys run from the back of the line to the front, Jascha climbing ever higher until she’s stepping between the shoulders of two two-man towers, and then onto the top of someone’s head…
Look, it was just incredible. And – when they were handing out stress balls (with which the audience could pelt the GOM crew in a little tension release exercise), Jascha held out two… but then, seeing me accept them whilst grinning like a loon, she smiled, gave me a wink, and handed me another ball. What a great birthday present :)
All this makes it sound like Jascha is the undoubted star of the show, but the entire GOM crew are on an equal footing; the boys, at times, share her sense of balance and finesse, and she possesses their strength. Not only that, but they’ve gained a live drumming accompaniment that gives the performance a further sense of urgency. But the pieces they choose to perform within A Simple Space give the show an amazing structure… it just flows from one jaw-dropping trick to another, each member performing exactly what was required. And I honestly think it’s the best-sequenced acrobatic show I can remember.
Is it the most polished show? Well, there are international contingents who will almost guarantee a flaw-free performance, and GOM had a few slip-ups this afternoon. But I could care less about a stumble here or there; in fact, it adds to the reality of the production… the knowledge that there are real people performing these stunts which could have real consequences. But what you don’t get from anyone else is that proximity – at one stage, there’s a stumble and the three-high structure is less than a metre from me. I could see every bead of sweat, every twitching muscle as they recover.
And that, to me, is far more engaging – and way more exciting – than the gleam of a polished performance.
I raved about this show to everyone… especially to a friend who happened to be working for The Guardian, and was looking for things to show her international editors. I really really really hope that Good Things came of that – because GOM totally deserve it. They are, without a doubt, the must-see acrobatic troupe.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 9, 2013