Underbelly Festival Southbank, London
April 10, 2019
Visit A Simple Space, meet eight hugely likeable young people with physical skills that run off the scale and you have an hour of total enjoyment. This is a no-frills circus, the performers dressed in jeans, shorts and T-shirts work on a tiny square of stage – but lots of space above – the audience only a whisker away and once they get started the energy is electric. From the opening moments, where the catch word is ‘falling!’ and despite the obvious well rehearsed skills, the mood is casual and no-sweat. They create towers of bodies three high, they balance, throw and catch, all at ease but all alert.
The pace seems too manic to sustain, but they’re experienced audience handlers. The comic moments are basic, a skipping competition and loser strips off, good fun and non-offensive in line with a family audience. The performers compete: who can hold their breath longest, throw themselves furthest and even pick up chunky audience members to see who is smallest and strongest. It’s all paced at the right level and with the right balance of fun and fright, so there’s never a dull moment.
Each of the members has their skills honed to their individual physicality. The smallest, Annalise Moore and Ashleigh Pearce display a dizzying head for heights as they always seem to be top of the pile and have no fear of speed and velocity as they are swung around and launched across the space where another pair of hands just happens to be in the right place at the right times to grab them. The trust is total, it has to be, each performer is 100% in the moment as eyes watch for the first shift of weight that indicates a body will soon needs catching.
Percussionist, Alex Flood, plays unobtrusively on the side for much of the show but he too enjoys his moment centre stage. Quietly he gets the audience on his side with a rhythmic game of claps and finger snaps, then extends it into body slapping in an original and entertaining music interlude.
The breathless display obviously gets the endorphins racing as I have seldom seen such elated performers. Their genuine love of the excitement and danger is infectious, and it was a very happy audience that drifted out into the Underbelly park.
A Simple Space is at Underbelly Festival Southbank to May 5. Visit www.underbellyfestival.com for tickets and more details.