A Simple Space
Gravity & Other Myths @ Royal Croquet Club – The Panama Club
5:00pm, Sun 9 Mar 2014
A quick dash (or rather, comfortable cab ride) sees MJ and I arrive at the Royal Croquet Club to find the queue for A Simple Space snaking around the dry and dusty bowl of Victoria Square; it’s hard work for the buskers trying to wheedle some cash from the queue-dwellers, and the humidity and lack of shade only add to the discomfort. But I find myself feeling absolutely, genuinely, amazingly happy that all these people are here to see Gravity & Other Myths weave their magic… but I’m also a bit jealous, too, because some of those people are probably seeing them for the first time.
I’ve linked to my first time many, many times before. And I’ll do so again, because just reading those poorly-assembled words makes the memories of that first Freefall show come flooding back, and I – quite literally – well up with tears of joy. But I’m deeply, deeply envious that all these people are coming into this performance fresh… because I know what awaits them.
By the time MJ and I get inside the Panama Club, most of the seats in the front two rows around the performance space are taken… I manage to snag a single in the front row at the front of the stage – almost perfect, really – but I soon change my mind and insist that MJ takes the optimal view instead… hey, it’s her first time too, and as a Honey Pot producer I want her to get the best possible look at my favourite acrobatic troupe. So instead I wind up in an aisle seat on the second row, my view a little obscured by a lighting rig… but I didn’t care. I was just so happy to be in that tent, at that time, on my birthday, surrounded by all these people… my expectant giggles led to enthusiastic conversation with my elderly neighbour, and then the lights dropped.
And I was back in that magical Simple Space.
Kicking off with their strip-skip routine again, many of the routines were familiar from last year’s performance – but it almost feels dismissive to type that, because the G&OM team have an organic fluency onstage that blends one trick into another in an almost seamless display of physical performance… but there’s no glitter, no flash, no distractions. Just raw, physical talent… straining muscles. Pouring sweat. Quiet grunts. Complete commitment. And yet the smiles and obvious understanding and camaraderie remain.
I had an epiphany early into this performance: A Simple Space is actually a collection of games and challenges that the G&OM team play with each other (that we’re lucky enough to witness). The strip-skipping, the boys’ backflip contests, the holding-breath-handstands, the handstands-while-the-audience-pelts-them-with-balls… even the Rubik’s Cube headstand had a competitive feel to it. But there’s still balances galore, bodies being thrown around, Jascha’s ascension from floor to three-high as she balances on a roaming circle of body parts. The clambering of Jascha around Triton and Lachlan in the no-floor-touch routine; the paired throws of the girls, with the pops of the the girls as the lads suspend them over each other in a tight formation… it’s one amazing experience after another.
And then I was dragged up on stage.
I’m pretty sure Triton – G&OM’s senior statesman – sought me out; regardless, a number of audience members were invited onstage. We lay in a circle, heads towards the centre, whilst Rhiannon carefully walked around the circle, balancing on hands… it’s a bizarre – and thrilling – way to view part of the performance, and as Triton guided me off the stage, I whispered “thanks so much for that… on my birthday, too!” “I know,” he replied with a smile, and my grin widened even further.
If you hadn’t gathered, I still unreservedly adore this show. Once again, Gravity & Other Myths left me a weeping and blubbering mess, hopelessly overcome by positive emotions. And those tears of joy, as annoying as they are (after all, they blur and obscure the action I’m so desperate to see!), represent all that is possible in a show with so much heart… that feels so completely honest and genuine. That it also happens to be a spectacular example of physical ability is just icing on the cake.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 9, 2014
But the biggest joy-tears were yet to come… because, in response to the above tweet, this is what the Gravity & Other Myths crew replied:
@festivalfreakAU Thanks for being part of it. You gave us out first great review in 2010 – gave us some self belief… now here we are.
— Gravity&OtherMyths (@GOM_Circus) March 10, 2014
Ah man. I’m having a little dance and toothy-grinned cry just pasting that tweet in.