Most years, I see a lot of comedy acts at the Edinburgh Fringe, but this year I’ve already seen a few other types as well! We’re only a week in, but I’ve already crammed in several shows (including some I saw last year, such as Shit Faced Showtime and The Noise Next Door), taking advantage of the discounts available in the first few days. Anyways, one of the first shows I saw was ‘Backbone’, performed by Gravity & Other Myths, in McEwan Hall.
Backbone is listed as a circus show, but it’s largely acrobatics – other circus shows in the Fringe have various other elements to them as well. The troupe consisted of ten acrobats, plus two live musicians. First of all, I loved having the music performed live on stage, as it was an integral part of the show, with the music and choreography closely intertwined and built around each other. The musicians were clearly very talented, and even stepped away from the instruments for a moment to join in with the rest of the act.
The acrobats were crazy good at what they do, making every trick look so effortless and simple – though we all knew it wasn’t of course! Your heart is in your mouth for most of the show, as they jump, tumble, and flip around the stage. The teamwork between them is so important, as they support, catch, and climb over each other, never missing a beat. Everything flows so seamlessly between them, as they switch from partner to partner in the middle of tricks! It’s quite a fast-moving performance much of the time, often with multiple tricks happening at once, so you can’t always decide where you want to look! They barely pause for breath sometimes too, whirling from one thing to the next all the time. And yes, they do seem to fly across the stage as if gravity were indeed a myth to them!
The show splits into little sections, signalled by changes in music, costume, lighting, and props. This is nice to keep things fresh all the time, and breaks up the hour long show a bit. They had some fairly unusual props as well, including buckets of dirt, long bamboo-like sticks, several rocks, and even a suit or armour. I wasn’t entirely sure what or if there was a storyline to it all, but I did like the whole style and concept of it overall. It felt quite modern, especially as they were all wearing casual, everyday clothes, like jeans and shirts, rather than typical circus costumes. But things like the dirt and rocks gave it an earthy, organic feel as well.
And although I wasn’t sure if there was a storyline, the music and changes in tempo certainly stirred various emotions throughout. Overall, I was in awe of them, but there were moments when I laughed from comedy elements, or things turned slow and serious. The final sequence seemed to have a sense of desperation to it, as they pushed themselves harder, through obvious exhaustion, which definitely made me feel quite emotional, before it all came to a finish.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole things, and would most definitely recommend it to anyone. McEwan Hall is a stunning venue, and their movement around the stage is simply breathtaking, accompanied by the incredible live music. You will be enthralled and amazed by what they can do. Fantastic!