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Review – Backbone: a stunning presentation


Backbone

Presented by Gravity & Other Myths in Association with the Brisbane Powerhouse

Directed by Darcy Grant

Powerhouse Theatre

Brisbane

Season: 16-17 February. Bookings: 07 3358 8600 / brisbanepowerhouse.org/events/2018/02/16/backbone/

Defying gravity in leaps and bounds, Gravity & Other Myths (GOM), in association with Brisbane Powerhouse, has showcased a stunning presentation that highlights the tremendous capabilities of the human form.

The celebration piece, aptly named Backbone, explored the connectedness of humanity. In a breathtaking display by an all Australian acrobatic ensemble, the production combined athletic appeal with sheer power and outshone any expectations of the admiring audience.

Leaving no stone unturned (pun intended), the performers hit the ground running, sky rocketing to levels of disbelief within seconds of commencing the show.

The staging was simple – buckets, poles and an idle clothing rack were strategically placed on the floor. A do-it-yourself aesthetic that was raw and urban, especially when accompanied with the notorious brick wall of the Powerhouse Theatre. It was a privilege to be up close and personal in this intimate setting for a circus.

When the group entered the space, they completely cleared what was set, in a behind-the-scenes kind of way, and casually started performing tricks. What amazed audience members most was the extraordinary abilities of those involved. Tricks were performed at all angles and in all spaces of the stage.

Backbone achieved the unimaginable and impossible. The GOM troupe varied their impressive stunts to the music of a two-piece band. They made towers three and four people tall and walked these easily across the stage. There were human pendulums, backflips, handstands and acrobats who literally catapulted themselves across the stage and at each other.

One highlight (out of many) was when a performer was hoisted up into the air by her fellow cast-mates who were holding her on poles. The acrobat was left balancing backwards on a single pole, which sat in the mid-section of her back – it was utterly insane and something you’d expect to see in a magician’s show.

Director, Darcy Grant, has put together an astonishing and entertaining circus performance, with a cast of impeccable acrobats. The idea of strength was clearly at the forefront of the production’s meaning, with Grant testing each artist’s skills, both physically and mentally. The show ended with one final act of power – an old-fashioned strength test. Even after giving their best during the entire performance, it was thrilling to see what the acrobats still had left in their tanks.

The performers were completely united and delivered as an accomplished ensemble. They proved the adage of ‘all for one and one for all’. Just as the audience got used to one acrobat in a certain shirt, they all changed and swapped clothing with each other. As much as they were individual performers, they were a collective, one and the same – it was a creative and novel approach.

The level of trust in each other and each person’s capabilities was something to be respected. Even when one catch was missed – and I stress the importance of one as they were very much on point the entire show – the camaraderie between them all was evident. Not to disappoint, they attempted the same trick again and nailed it perfectly. The ensemble was tight, ambitious and in tune with each other.

Backbone is Australia’s version of Cirque du Soleil. The performers have brought to life a modern and contemporary circus show that delivers the traditional wows, oohs and aahs from an ever-adoring audience. The 80 minute spectacle literally had it all with an engaging performance that moved away from your customary type of circus.

The group demonstrates quite clearly that they are innovative, daring and a new type of physical theatre.

Although Backbone is showcasing in Brisbane for a very limited time, I don’t believe this is the last time we will see the multi-award winning group that is GOM. The troupe is based in Adelaide and is making its mark already in international waters. One can expect big things from this evolving company and word of mouth on how talented the individuals are is going to spread like wildfire.

The only way to show your appreciation to this production is to let your backbone speak with a standing ovation.

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