Seven acrobats – five men and two women – pick their way through a series of challenges, the things a child would think of on a lazy afternoon. Except the challenges are really hard: can you solve a Rubik’s cube balancing on your head? Can you hold your breath longer than I can stand upside down? Can you backflip longer and faster than anyone else? Can you roll over me without touching the ground?
If A Simple Space was a person, it would be a cheeky five year old. Skipping rope with pants around his ankles. Or holding her breath jumping from sofa to armchair, pretending the floor is a river full of crocodiles. For all its physical daring and breathtaking precision, it’s the spirit of childhood that makes the show so much fun. Anyone remember Pippi Longstocking and the horse balancing on her head? It’s a bit like that but for real.
There is no set but the space has its own precise specifications: “4 metres wide x 6.5 metres deep with 6 metres overhead clearance. Audience wraps around front and sides”. If the technical specifications are important for managing the physical fits, the audience at breathing distance works its own magic. These are not abstract bodies drawing shapes. It’s the exertion and shortage of breaths that make it special.
After the curtain call, the company members were picking props from the stage and a little girl from the audience continued to throw plastic balls at them. It sums it up beautifully. Like a “can we play some more?” at the end of the day.
At the Udderbelly festival in Southbank till July 6th. Visit the company’s website for more information and a beautiful gallery of photos.