REVIEW: Backbone, Gravity & Other Myths, Royal Festival Hall

The Australian circus troupe present a clever and slick show that highlights the strength and the importance of the backbone.

I have to say I’m consistently amazed by the variety of circus shows around, the numerous approaches to showcase an amazing amount of talent in one show. Now, with Backbone  the bar has once again been raised.

This is most definitely a show that you are best going in knowing nothing about as it features so many different tricks and surprises that would be a shame to spoil in this review. But it wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to say that not only is the strength and ability of the performers is impressive but it is the smooth way in which it has all been choreographed to make it flow seamlessly from beginning to end.

With every sequence and act, it is all built up rather gradually such as the building of what is essentially a human pyramid that highlights the bond and trust among the performers – all of whom look as though they are having the time of their lives being literally flung and spun around in front of the audience.

But every individual movement is not only graceful but perfectly places the backbone right at the heart of the show, with every twist and turn (literally) showcasing the way in which the backbone’s flexibility and strength to great and mesmerising effect. This is all brought together by the creative and stunning use of lighting, which captures the most important and memorable of movements or positions that the performers find themselves in almost like a photograph.

But while the acrobatics are impressive, the moments in which the physical theatre elements of the show come into play it disrupts the flow of the show overall and distracts from the impressiveness of the acrobatics. Yes, it would be fair to say that it means that the show doesn’t become repetitive and contains plenty of variety, but it doesn’t feel as though it adds anything to the context of the show as a whole.

The whole vibe of the show is relaxed and informal, making it easy to enjoy watching what unfolds. However, this laid back approach can also slow the pace right down – particularly in the opening moments of the show in which nothing much seems to happen, feeling as though they are keeping the audience waiting for no particular reason.

However, this aside Gravity & Other Myths have created a truly unique show that highlights how important the backbone is in an imaginative and entertaining way. Worth a visit for those who like the unexpected.

By Emma Clarendon

Backbone is being performed at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall until the 19th August. For more information visit:

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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