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A feature by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 


 

Gravity and Other Myths presents

 

A Simple Space

 

 

Udderbelly Festival

 

10 April – 13 July 2014

 

 

In the belly of an inflatable purple cow on London’s Southbank audiences are gasping and laughing and being blown right away by one of the tightest, strongest, most smiley ensembles I’ve ever seen. A Simple Space might have been named in reference to the blank, carpeted stage which the seven acrobats in this show perform on. Right up against an expectant audience the group first appear in casual dress and switch on the lights at the stage corners which they will alter according to the atmosphere at intervals during the show. These lights, a pole, some skipping ropes, a rubix cube and hundreds of multicoloured plastic balls are close to the only things the coup share the stage with during the show. There are no gimmicks with A Simple Space, just undeniable talent, imaginativeness and an appetite for fun.

After a pacy and attention-grabbing ‘falling’ routine the show kicks off with a comical game of strip skipping which introduces the competitive element common to a lot of the pieces in the show. Skipping together at astonishing speed, three members of the group endeavour not to be the first to lose rhythm, the consequence of which is losing an item of clothing. One can imagine how this element of the show culminates; suffice to say it paves the way for a segment later in the show when the group use each other as skipping ropes. From the get-go the intimacy of the show is striking. The performers every breath can be heard as they line up after each routine to collect themselves before the next. A small towel is passed along the line and used liberally without consideration for the next in the queue.

Professional drummer Elliot Zoerner steps in and out of the acrobatic action to provide an extra kick of live percussion. When the drums get too plain for his liking he makes a human drum machine out of himself, taking centre-stage to slap and click himself silly in a feat of rhythm and agility. Like much of the show, this finds the audience torn between gasps of amazement and howls of laughter.

For all the fun elements of the performance there are equally serious acrobatic routines which include one performer standing on top of another who’s already on top of another, masters of balance walking on the heads of other group-members and various other eye-watering tests of flexibility and strength. At one point a man stands on his head while solving a Rubik’s cube, the general impression given is that ‘Gravity and Other Myths’ don’t care much for limits. The level of trust and familiarity between the acrobats is striking, as is the visible delight when a piece is executed well (every one). From one member jumping from torso to torso of the others to the troupe literally throwing each other around the stage, the level of speed and coordination is unwavering.

To see A Simple Space truly is a visceral, charming and gripping experience. Not even pouring rain from a grey summer sky could dampen the spirits of the invigorated audience as I left on press night.

 

 
https://www.underbelly.co.uk/node/5325256
Udderbelly Festival
At Southbank Centre Close to Hungerford Bridge
SE1 8XX
www.underbelly.co.uk
Tickets: £16/18
Family Tickets
Save £10 with a family ticket for 4 people.
Tue - Thu £52
Fri - Sun £60
Simply add 'Family Tickets' to your basket. Only bookable in multiples of 4.
Based on 2 adult and 2 concession tickets
Box Office: 0844 545 8282
 
 
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