Adelaide-based circus company Gravity & Other Myths take to the stage of Underbelly’s magnificent McEwan Hall this Edinburgh Fringe Festival in their outstanding work Backbone. Laughs, gasps and tears alike are guaranteed in this unforgettable exploration of what it really means to be human.
Deceptively ‘DIY’ by nature, this is not circus as we have come to know it. The expected frills and embellishments of traditional circus have been replaced by casual clothing and simple, natural props, such as stones and bamboo poles. Instead of feeling as though you are watching a camp, theatrical show, as a viewer you are immediately made to feel welcomed into a close-knit group of friends. A sense of relaxation and fun is conjured to perfection as the performers tumble, flip and jump around the space in a manner suggestive of a few friends playing around. In fact, it is very easy to forget that you are watching incredibly difficult stunts that could potentially be very dangerous. Instead you are lulled into a sense of comfort, making the inevitable rise in difficulty and peril all the more jaw dropping.
Backbone has been repeatedly described as an exploration into what it means to be human and it is easy to see why. The lighting design, props and stage design all draw inspiration from natural forms, colours and textures to summon an image of the Mother Earth that we have all come from and shall eventually return to. Yet we are reminded that there is so much more to being human than this: the combination of bon amie and intimacy between the performers and the audience creates a clear yet beautiful sense of belonging, reminding the audience how truly special it is to belong to the human race. What Gravity & Other Myths have achieved with this production is truly special and audiences are sure to leave with a smile on their faces and warmth in their hearts.