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N&N Festival, Gravity & Other Myths - A Simple Space: Strong is very definitely beautiful in the Spielgeltent

PUBLISHED: 10:29 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:34 23 May 2019

Gravity & Other Myths in action  Photo Andy Phillipson

Gravity & Other Myths in action Photo Andy Phillipson

Andy Phillipson / www.livewireimage.com

Skipping, headstands and human pyramids....Jo Malone reviews Gravity & Other Myths at the Spielgeltent

Simple lighting adds to the raw athletic feel of this unique act   Photo Andy PhillipsonSimple lighting adds to the raw athletic feel of this unique act Photo Andy Phillipson

Skip skip skip, turn that rope faster and faster, skip skip skip, watch your mates, are they keeping up…faster, faster.. and keep up…. because this is strip skipping.

Yes, the first one to trip on the rope has to take off a layer, and if they trip again, they take off another layer. These are circus performers; they're not wearing many layers.

We're in the Spiegeltent in Chapelfield Gardens, itself a not-at-all pared back circus tent with its opulent drapes and glittery (closed) bar, cute booths and a prestigious, oh so special, feel. If the performers sashayed on with feather headdresses and a good smattering of sequins we wouldn't have batted an eyelid.

But this is Aussie-style acrobatic circus; stripped back, strong, athletic, honest performing - so of course it's going to be strip skipping - and oh my word can this group skip fast!

There's a huge element of fun to the fantastic feats of Gravity & Other Myths   Photo Chris Herzfeld/Camlight ProductionsThere's a huge element of fun to the fantastic feats of Gravity & Other Myths Photo Chris Herzfeld/Camlight Productions

This team, Gravity & Other Myths, is all about the movement. Not for them a fanfare of musical and light trickery, instead a feeling they're making it up as they go along. We know they're not - you couldn't make up this these amazingly choreographed moves without a serious amount of practice - but the sense of raw energy and enjoyment simply flows.

It's precision physical performance with a big dollop of fun. One second it's beautiful, thoughtful art as people turn into stepping-stones and all the floor is lava for one artist stretching up into an endless turning handstand. The next it's a competition of handstands with the audience hurling plastic balls to knock them down.

That's where this young circus squad from Australia makes the difference; they engage the audience so we're with them through every level of human pyramid and seemingly impossible balance.

They're performing, but they're continually including the audience with eye contact, high fives and playful smiles so we feel part of the game whether it's a backwards somersault competition or standing long jump from the back of one teammate to another.

One minute it's an amazing balance, the next we're hurling plastic balls at them in a handstand competition   Photo Andy PhillipsonOne minute it's an amazing balance, the next we're hurling plastic balls at them in a handstand competition Photo Andy Phillipson

These days many of us have seen a lot of circus, theatre, gymnastics, cheerleading and dance whether live or on TV shows such as Britain's Got Talent. Gravity & Other Myths are all of that, and totally and fantastically unique too. We'd never seen a performance like it. We loved it.

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JO MALONE

Gravity & Other Myths - A Simple Space - continues at the Spiegeltent as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival until Sunday, May 26 2019. www.nnfestival.org.uk

Young fans Keola and Thalia are not going to say no when invited to try a stunt with Gravity & Other Myths after the show  Photo Jo MaloneYoung fans Keola and Thalia are not going to say no when invited to try a stunt with Gravity & Other Myths after the show Photo Jo Malone

IS THE SHOW SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

"We didn't open our sweeties."

The sign of an amazing show when you're eight and your sweets for the theatre are untouched at the end.

Thalia, eight, and Keola, 11, couldn't believe how close the seats are to the performance area in the Spiegeltent; so close - as Thalia pointed out - we could hear Gravity & Other Myths breathing.

Meeting performers is always a highlight  Photo Jo MaloneMeeting performers is always a highlight Photo Jo Malone

The girls were totally enraptured, holding their breath as the balances became more extreme, clapping and giggling with amazement.

"They're so fit," said Keola, amazed at their strength and synchronicity with each leap and catch, hold and balance.

They loved it all, giggling like crazy at the strip-skipping, delighted at behind-the-back-balloon-modelling and Rubik cube unraveling - while in a headstand.

Keola can't believe she's chosen to join them on stage, Thalia can't believe the musician who turns his chest, tummy, hands and head into the ultimate percussion instrument with finger clicks, claps and body slaps.

Keola and Thalia were inspired by the strength of the performers and could hardly believe they could meet them afterwards too  Photo Jo MaloneKeola and Thalia were inspired by the strength of the performers and could hardly believe they could meet them afterwards too Photo Jo Malone

It's a show unlike anything they've ever seen - and when the performers are standing outside, for a long time, chatting to audience members after the show, they are totally inspired.

"They're so fit - and so nice," added Keola.

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