Review: A Simple Space

If you see only one show in the Fringe, make it A Simple Space, by Adelaide-born gymnastic group Gravity and Other Myths.  And take the kids and grandparents.

Perhaps you saw these athletes in the Dunstan Playhouse in last year’s Adelaide Festival? Well this is rather different. The cast of two women (short) and five men (tall) perform on a small square stage with their percussionist in one corner and the audience on three sides, within easy reach when required for participation, as often happens. There is a beguiling air of casualness which masks extreme technical skill.

There’s much hilarity from the fast beginning, with cast members yelling out ‘Falling!’ and falling backward, to be caught n the nick of time before hitting the floor — all but one, who does land flat on his back — there was a loudly audible ‘Ow!’ from someone in the audience. But in this show you can’t always be certain what’s genuine and what’s unintended.  One trick that succeeded only after three tries got an especially big round of applause.  It did look genuine.

The performers hurl one another around, stand three or even four on each other’s shoulders, do handstands for over three minutes; one engages the audience with simple hand clapping and finger snapping then leaves them behind with a quickening pace. This soon turns into a shirt-off  exhilarating display of a multitude of body slapping rhythms — his chest was markedly red by the end of it, when the audience took over with rowdy applause

Ever tried solving a Rubic’s Cube upside down with your head on a stand and your legs in the air?  I assure you it can be done.  Or being the man on his stomach on the floor as three or four others stand on you and a girl climbs up to the next level? And is then lifted up by the top man in a one-hand stand?  It’s made to look relatively easy.

In the main event the two girls become skipping ropes for the men (who have had their own skipping, funny and eye-opening item earlier on), with the girls thrown into exchanging with each other, and the men leaping over them, doing back aerial somersaults, even with a twist for good measure.  It’s all fast, exciting and demanding microsecond timing. Most spectacularly, a girl is thrown into the air with a double twist before being caught below. Leaves you breathless.

No wonder this group is an award-winner in festivals worldwide.

A Simple Space continues at the Grand Auditorium at Royal Croquet Club until March 18.

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