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Out of thin air

Leah Mercer

Chelsea McGuffin, Darcy Grant, David Carberry, The Space Between Chelsea McGuffin, Darcy Grant, David Carberry, The Space Between
photo Justin Nicholas
From the moment of being directed to Circa’s studio rather than the main performance space at the Judith Wright Centre, The Space Between is something out of the ordinary. With the audience placed up against the 4 walls in a single row of seats facing a rectangular mat in the centre of the room, the space is bare, except for a single trapeze hanging in the centre. This sparse beginning is a kind of empty canvas that we will watch paint itself.

Lit only from above and sometimes assisted by projections, the mat becomes textured with shadows that create shapes, or inversely, spaces in which the performers place themselves. In the light and in between, the performers are confined and defined. This recurring attention to space is in keeping with the production’s exploration “into the things that keep us apart and our desire to be together”.

These lighting states also ensure that this is a piece about bodies rather than faces and when these bodies (performers Chelsea McGuffin, Darcy Grant and David Carberry) enter and take their place there is an impassive quality, an effortlessness that is neatly contradicted by the moment they engage and the performance begins. The passion and effort builds in an accumulation of moments, of stunning solo dexterity, beautiful duets and gorgeous ensemble work. This is a work of momentum and of images tumbling one after the other. The moving bodies, the riffing physical images and the constant, changing patterns of light on the floor create rich impressions.

The integrated soundtrack ranges from Jacques Brel songs to industrial sounds. When it describes “walking and falling at the same time” we seem to have lost track of which way is up and which way is down as the performers defy our logical understanding of what bodies can do. When McGuffin is lifted up to the trapeze, the vertical dimension of the space—right there in front of us the whole time—seems to open up. And that’s one of the many qualities of this work, what it creates out of thin air. McGuffin’s work on the trapeze is stunning, an exquisite, crash mat-free, heart-stopping duet, performer melding with apparatus.

The other two performers are equally compelling. Carberry has the flexibility of a rag doll coupled with amazing feats of strength, while Grant brings a mix of grace and danger. The only false note came in the stories told by McGuffin and Grant. Without the flair or seamlessness intrinsic in every other element of the production, the texts seemed oddly out of place.

This is a brave work, a simple performance that is strikingly complex, without tricks and yet full of them. Resting on the skills and presence of its 3 performers, The Space Between gives them no room to hide, nor do they need it.

Circa Rock’n’Roll Circus Ensemble, The Space Between, director Yaron Lifschitz, Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane, Aug 17-Sept 3

See more on Circa in An Axis of Edges, p8

RealTime issue #69 Oct-Nov 2005 pg. 34

© Leah Mercer; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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