Melbourne Festival – Backbone

Gravity and Other Myths BackboneBackbone. Noun.

  1. The line of bone down the centre of the back that provides support for the body.
  2. Courage and strength of character.

The curtain lifts on the troupe, Gravity and Other Myths (GOM). They’re lying about the stage at mostly right angles to one another – some perpendicular, other parallel. They sit up, then stand, collect themselves and unassumingly begin to play at their daring-do.

Throughout the piece, accompanied by musicians, Shenton Gregory and Elliot Zoerner, the ensemble demonstrates these two meanings of the word, Backbone. Their strength and control is prodigious, but, a backbone is also a point of strength because of how it supports. Indeed, what’s endearing about this performance by GOM is the obvious care each member of the group takes with the others.

The design is captivating. Dirt is drawn along the stage to make patterns. Spotlights point up at mirrors, which reflect the beams down again making patterns in a stunning example of luminous geometry.

Routines haven’t been picked merely for gasps and applause. There’s method here, as the show has a shape to it that’s almost palindromic (e.g. A-B-C-B-A). The troupe play with themes of time and inevitability: A man is walking but the other performers slow his steps so they take an eternity.

Later, a collection of heavy rocks will be held up in a net over other performers. As the net inexorably begins to slip, those playing underneath persist in ignoring Damocles’ boulders, instead taking turns to pose in elaborate and flexible tableaux.

Ultimately, Backbone, reminds us that, despite the progression of time for all of us, community and compassion are essential qualities to be able to weather that time with success, grace, and hope.

Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 5 October 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 8 October 2017
Information and Bookings:

Image: Gravity and Other Myths presents Backbone – photo by Hamish McDonald

Review: David Collins