“Alright, here we go. It begins” and it does with a somewhat seemingly impromptu stream of consciousness introductory ramble as the performers assemble on stage, their overlapping monologues are layered and the sum of the individual speeches becomes a rambling white noise until these vocal acrobatics suddenly halt and the stage falls into blackness. What followed was a frustratingly dimly lit first section using minimal lighting of barely perceptible acrobatic routines with much of the action obscured by darkness, slowly graduating to full illumination before the audience could fully appreciate the physical talents of the performers.
Early on this performance is as much an exercise in dance as acrobatics encompassing parkour in amongst the more generic circus-style techniques. There are smooth changes between individual acts with performers moving from one side of the stage to the other, effectively acting as human screen-swipes. Their interactions are seamless and sometimes it is hard to see where one performer ends and another begins both physically and in the sequence of the routines. There is a degree of trompe l’oeil with what I will describe as an ouroborotic performance, the performers giving rise or birth to the next, and coming from inside each other. They appear to be giving life and movement to an Escher drawing and I consider that the quotation “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” may rarely be more appropriate.
The audience urge to clap after individual spectacles breaks up the flow of the routines and the performance as a whole and may have been acknowledged in a comedic rehearsal-like interlude by the telling “I don’t know if the audience knows when to clap” seemingly ad-libbed and spoken by one of the performers when the roving ringmaster character with microphone seemingly randomly allows the voicing of the individual performers’ inner thoughts.
This dichotomy of obscuring the physical acts early on but enabling the voicing of thought bubbles and somewhat breaking the fourth wall, is an interesting concept, the show appearing at times to pull back the curtain on the performance. This is later reinforced by the almost DIY aesthetic to the stage set up and preparation when performers are relegated to the role of stagehands and elevate the ringmaster to become the centre of attention including a middle-eastern choral-like vocal funeral procession act and then a comedic scene of one-upmanship with several individual performers.
To end the show, the performers return to their regular roles for some final routines involving human projectiles and the physically impressive and well received although over reliance on human totemic structures. In closing, there are humorous post gymnastic routine performer interview commentaries, the final words coming from the performer whose “thoughts” introduced the show: “That’s numero one done. I’m gonna have to throw these clothes out”.
Gravity of Myths have further consolidated their reputation as a company with great potential and have produced a rewarding take on physical theatre that embraces and puts on display some of the inner workings and background to what audiences are accustomed to. The performers, although brilliant as the cogs in the machine, are given opportunity to project themselves and their thoughts as individuals and this is refreshing given the abundance of contemporary circus and spectacle shows currently on offer.
Adelaide Festival review by Jason Leigh
For tickets, show dates and times to Out Of Chaos head to the Adelaide Festival website.