'Simple Space' 60 minutes of eccentric, breathtaking physical theater

Gravity & Other Myths

Gravity & Other Myths flew to a breathless standing ovation at their Spoleto Festival debut performance Friday.

The Australian acrobatic ensemble's award-winning production, "A Simple Space," is one of the two physical theater performances in this year's festival lineup. Spoleto Festival has been curating more of these exhilarating shows in the past few years, including Compagnie XY in 2013 and LEO in 2012.

Wearing simple earth tone t-shirts and pants, members of Gravity & Other Myths took the stage with thrilling and whimsical acrobatic choreography. A female performer lay facedown with her stomach on a bar placed at the center of the stage. She was then hoisted up by two acrobats balanced on top of each other at each side of the bar. Other acts such as a strip jump rope contest, and acrobats being swung back and forth as a human jump rope, pushed the human physical boundaries with grace and comedic flair.

The performing space was very intimate, with part of the audience sitting on the edge of a small rectangular stage and in range of the acrobats' swinging limbs. Gravity & Other Myths made sure to include onlookers in the show. Balloon dogs were given out after one act and people were invited to lay onstage with the performers as a female acrobat balanced above.

Each theatrical component to the show was done onstage. Four poles, with lights and power switches lined vertically on them, stood on each corner of the stage. Stark lighting hit the platform in simple yet beautiful choreography as the acrobats flipped on and off different switches between acts.

Elliot Zoerner, percussionist in the ensemble, was set up in a corner of the stage. His fellow performers tumbled and were sent spiraling to Zoerner's fast and steady live drumbeats. The music along with the show stripped away all room for breathing and left hearts pounding. The acrobats' heavy breathing and thumps as they landed on their feet could also be heard in acts without music.

After the show, the ensemble mixed and mingled with the audience outside the theater. They graciously answered questions and took photos with people.

Gravity & Other Myths will be performing at the Emmett Robinson Theatre from through May 27. Take a deep breath. You won't be able to exhale for the next 60 minutes.

Olivia Yang is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.