A Simple Space

The Aurora, Festival Village, Hyde Park North, January 13

Flying high in A Simple Space. Photo: Prudence Upton

Flying high in A Simple Space. Photo: Prudence Upton

The Sydney Festival has once again created a lively hub at Hyde Park North with its Festival Village set-up, which has been expanded this year to accommodate the crowds.

There are two Spiegeltents in place, with The Aurora home to two circus shows – A Simple Space and LIMBO – running through the Festival.

LIMBO is back after a sellout season at last year’s Festival. It didn’t feel quite so tightly paced on opening night as it did in 2014 but it’s still a terrific, seductive show (see my review from last year).

A Simple Space by Adelaide-based company Gravity & Other Myths is a much more raw but thoroughly charming show. It features a company of seven acrobats – five men (Triton Tunis-Mitchell, Lachlan Binns, Martin Schreiber, Jacob Randell, Daniel Liddiard) and two women (Jascha Boyce and Rhiannon Cave-Walker) – along with a musician (Elliot Zoerner) who provides a driving percussion score and, at one point, steps into the limelight to become a human drum machine.

In terms of aesthetic, A Simple Space is certainly true to its title. It’s circus at the other end of the spectrum from the slick, mega-produced spectacle of Cirque du Soleil. There’s no set, minimal props and basic costuming (lads in jeans and T-shirts, ladies in white shorts and black tops). It’s a decidedly glitz-free zone.

Sitting at such close quarters, we see the sweat and straining muscles, we hear the hard breathing, which all adds to the enjoyable homespun feel.

The vibe is rough-and-ready playful; the performers seem to be having as much fun as we are. They begin with a line-up along the back of the stage – to which they revert at the end of each act.

The show opens with something akin to a drama trust exercise in which they all move around the stage, yelling “falling” as one of them drops and is caught just before crashing – with a comic moment to cap it off.

There are all kinds of impressive balancing acts along with a very funny strip-skipping routine, balloon-moulding, a strong-woman act in which the two ladies each lift a man from the audience to see who can hold them up the longest, and a breath-holding contest.

One of the men solves a Rubik’s Cube while standing on his head. (Someone should get him to duet with Hilary Cole, who solves a Rubik’s Cube while singing in her cabaret show O.C. Diva).

The climax is a routine where the men toss the two women around, throwing them skywards while holding their hands and feet as if airing a blanket, and using them like human skipping ropes.

Overall, it does feel as if  A Simple Space has one or two balancing acts too many (skillful though they are) but even so it’s a really engaging show.

A Simple Space plays in The Aurora as part of Sydney Festival until January 25