Backbone, the latest touring circus show from Gravity and Other Myths, is a wonderful example of how to make something insanely difficult seem easy.
For the most part this is a cleverly choreographed and deceptively casual display of balance, tumbling and people throwing each other around the stage. There is rarely ever just one thing happening at any one time, with the 10 performers acting like cogs in a particularly complex mechanism. This is all set to a thunderous, genre-hopping soundtrack by Elliot Zoerner and Shenton Gregory.
At the start, all the equipment – and all of the performers – are laid out on the stage, like the parts of a kit. Then a single acrobat is pushed up into the air by poles, until they are left balancing high above the stage on the top of a single pole.
In Darcy Grant’s production, the smallest performers get thrown the furthest and raised the highest, while a final sequence leaves only the female acrobats standing under a descending bag of stones. Whether or not it was intended as such, this acts as a potent visual metaphor.
A final acrobatic mega-mix finale threatens to outstay its welcome but actually it just adds a little bit of chaos to the mix.