festival: backbone

adelaide festival: backbone
This will be the fifth time we've seen Gravity and Other Myths... We first saw them in 2011 with Freefall, then A Simple Space in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

But this year they've stepped into the big leagues with Backbone as part of the Adelaide Festival in the Dunstan Playhouse.

Each show we've seen has been better than the last, and Backbone is no exception. This feels like a gigantic leap forward (no pun intended) for them, both in their performance but also in the staging, lighting and set that this show and director Darcy Grant has provided them.

Original GOM cast members Lachlan Binns, Jascha Boyce, Martin Schreiber, Jacob Randell and musician Elliot Zoerner are joined again by Simon McClure, Joanne Curry and Lachlan Harper. New faces this time around are Meike Lizotte, Lewie West, Jackson Manson, Lewis Rankin and musician Shenton Gregory. Just the fact that the cast is now eleven people strong and that Zoerner's percussion has been joined by Gregory's piano and violin make the show feel that much bigger and grander. And allows them to do much more elaborate sequences that seemed to fill the stage with flying bodies.

I will admit that I am still completely mesmerised by Harper... there's just something about the way he moves through space that means I find it very hard to look away from him (and of course it doesn't hurt that he's beautiful).

But it's amazing to see how much the original cast has matured in the seven years since we first saw them, and how well the new faces have fitted into the family.

I also love the fact that very often (especially at the beginning of the show) there will be so much going on on stage that tricks that other shows would have as a feature just happen like they're no big deal, and if you miss them while watching something else happening on the other side of the stage, its okay.

It's also amazing the number of things that happened during the two hour show... so many different kinds of tricks and sequences, all relying on the cast's strength, balance and skill.

Two of the most mesmerising sequences include Boyce carrying a stone and being carried and turned by the rest of the cast and Lizotte being lifted aloft by wooden poles... just the sheer fact that they're doing what they're doing is breathtaking enough, but in both cases it's performed with such an amazing presence. Oh, and there's also the sequence where everybody has buckets on their heads, which is pretty damn amazing.

Unlike previous shows, there's less of a connection made directly with the audience this time around, which is usually one of the things I enjoy most about GOM shows. But somehow in this show, I'm more than happy to trade off that connection for both the pure spectacle of this show and feeling like the performers exist in their own strange heightened universe where they pour buckets of "dirt" on the floor, change their clothes over and over again and throw, kick or toss each other from one end of the room to the other.

Fortunately while there is definitely a level of polish here, they haven't lost the rawness and realness of previous shows. You still hear them call to each other, and by the end the effort is evident in all of their faces.

Before the show had even finished, I was already wishing I could turn around and watch the whole thing again.

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