Current Issue #488

Review: Out of Chaos

Review: Out of Chaos

Adelaide success story Gravity & Other Myths show off their extraordinary acrobatic talent and creative approach to circus in Out of Chaos.

They fly through the air with the greatest of ease, these daring young men and women of Gravity & Other Myths, the Adelaide-born acrobatic group which travels the world gaining plaudits from South America to Zimbabwe, Edinburgh to Hong Kong and places in between. You may remember their dazzling achievements in Backbone, in the 2017 Festival. Now they are celebrating their tenth birthday with a world premiere which begins in darkness.

A man in the audience with a torch gets up and goes onstage to a standing microphone, and starts mumbling to himself. Others join him, until the rest of the eight-member cast (so far as one can tell) are all there, in ordinary casual clothes, with torches. Every now and again they shine them briefly on someone doing handstands, backflips or up on someone else’s shoulders – most unexpectedly, a woman is seen bending perilously backward while her colleagues form a high arch over her.  The stage lights gradually come up while the whole cast begin to walk, then march back and forth, and round and round in formation, faster and faster till they are running.  Leaves some in the audience breathless.

Speech enters into the action as cast members begin talking about themselves, but as each begins while others keep on, and there’s a drumbeat as well, the noise is soon a chaotic babble.  That done, with the lighting full on, there’s a sequence of throwing bodies into the air to be caught, perhaps to be lifted on to the catcher’s shoulders as a start of a three- or four-person tier.  Picture three, maybe four men, a woman supported horizontally by the topmost who then launches her to be caught by a man seeming over a metre away standing on another’s shoulders – flying through the air and no safety net between her and the floor.

Women are swung between two men holding their arms and legs, and become like skipping ropes for others to leap or dive across and more amazingly hurl themselves into aerial somersaults over.  But usual gender roles are switched in another part of this fast-moving performance when women lift and throw men.

Light bulbs are fixed into long hanging flexes and set swaying, as hula hoops are brought on, and soon both men and women are swinging them around hips, torsos, necks, arms, legs. Composer for the show Ekrem Phoenix, distinguished by his evening suit, plays a hand-held xylophone to add more to his percussive score, and four of the cast come down to sit in the aisles making music on bowls, both by rubbing the rim and striking the edge. Eventually two women are left, one with at least five hoops, all going like crazy.

Towards the end, Phoenix, who has earlier been singing in countertenor, begins a Turkish song in a clear light baritone. Tables, made from the large disks propped against the back of the stage, are placed one on top of another and he is lifted up on to each until he stands high above the floor, singing all the time.  Music crowns the order which has come out of the chaos of darkness and much of what has gone before.

The chaos, of course, has been carefully choreographed, and chaotic only in the sense of the extraordinary variety of acrobatic movement we have been watching and applauding. Geoff Cobham has lit the show with his usual magical touch, assisted by Max Mackenzie. Director Darcy Grant, a former cast member, has produced another winner, adding live music and spoken word to the physicality of these spectacular performers.

 Out of Chaos was performed at Scott Theatre on March 3

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