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Circus at the South Bank

A Simple Space. Photo credit: Steve Ullathorne.

Event preview

GRAVITY and Other Myths is a troupe from Australia whose unique close-up acrobatic show, A Simple Space, has been booked for a six-week season (May 30 to July 6, 2014) at the Udderbelly Festival on the South Bank (until July 13).

The word ‘Circus’ can be guilty of conjuring vivid images of glitzy pomp and ceremony. But this summer, a new kind of spectacle is set to wipe these preconceptions from the artistic landscape, leaving behind only seven hypnotic, beguiling, magnetic performers in A Simple Space.

The simple space in question is a 6.5m x 4m black mat with seats on three sides set mere inches away from the cast and the action. It’s all very intimate and pleasant and touchy-feely and sounds rather nice. But, particular moments in “Gravity and other Myths” are near-suicidal, terrifying and just plain dangerous.

The seven performers (five men and two women) stack themselves into towers, turn themselves into human skipping ropes, sling each other into the rafters, somersault and tumble on the spot, invite the audience to pelt them with brightly-coloured plastic balls, and wind their bodies into improbably bone-bending counter-balanced shapes and structures which defy logic, belief and human morphology. But the true joy is its exhilarating simplicity.

This is stripped-back, no props, no wires, in your face, world-class acrobatic action happening a hair’s-breadth and a heartbeat away from the audience. You will gasp in astonishment, recoil in apprehension, sigh in relief, smile in wonder, laugh in bafflement, and applaud in instinct as you witness “Gravity and Other Myths” go about their work in cheerful good spirits, displaying an insouciance and casual joie de vivre.

For those disenchanted with pretentious arena-scale, over-produced, Disneyfied circus extravaganzas, this is the ultimate back-to-its-roots antidote: seven people, one large mat, some drums and a bottomless well of agility, bravery, showmanship, wit and athletic talent.

Gravity and Other Myths has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike both in their native Australia and at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival.

Tickets: £12.50, £16.50, £18. To book, visit www.udderbelly.co.uk/ or call 0844 545 8282 (lines open 9am – 8pm, 7 days a week) or in person at the Southbank Centre box office.

Performance Times: Tuesday to Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 2:30pm and 6pm; Sunday at 6pm.