Review – A Simple Space – Gravity & Other Myths at Udderbelly, Southbank

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As well as loving theater, I enjoy movement performances – dance, circus, cabaret, all of it is fun for me. And it’s not in short supply in London at all, especially with venues like Udderbelly on the Southbank, which ups the ante with its two-shows-in-one-night programming. This meant that a trip to see a show by “Gravity and Other Myths” was a no brainer: it was both short and eminently affordable (especially since I had comps). I hadn’t seen their performance last year but thought I’d do my best to play catch up – not to mention the phrase “hottest young circus ensembles” had an enticements all of its own.

Gravity and Other Myths is (as near as I can tell) six men and one woman, with one of the men being smaller and thus capable of doing more of the “top of the pyramid” balancing stunts than the other men. (Per the press release it appears there is a second woman in the group – but she did not perform the night I attended.) You’d wonder just what you could do with a balancing act that could possibly extend the length of the show to an hour, but G&OM found lots of variety, and had the whole evening moving along at a crackling pace. At times the focus was on astounding us (as when the woman walked across the heads of various of the men, barefoot yet somehow getting a grip on their skulls, then dashing down their bodies and back up again); at other times, we were invited to laugh (a balloon animal group squeeze; the human beat box); and then again they had a series of competitions, starting easily enough with a rope skipping competition in which the loser was required to remove an article of clothing (yes this included the skivvies). Things got more intense, though, with a back flip competition, as the losers looked to me in danger of actually hurting themselves rather a lot when they failed to land on their feet; and a competition for standing on one foot while the audience threw balls at the acrobats left me feeling a bit perturbed when I realized the balls had been hitting hard enough to leave welts on the winner. This was fun? It seemed mean.

Overall, I found this a fun night, although it left me wincing more than once. I do worry about the long term physical health of these folks – some of the back movements looked to me designed to cause injury – and I hope they are careful with themselves.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, April 22nd 2015. It continues through May 24th.)

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