Acrobats have long been associated with extravagant outfits, over the top stage designs and silly comedy. Seattle based contemporary circus arts company Acrobatic Conundrum’s “Love & Gravity” challenges that association with a story centered on real people, honest dialogue, diverse talents and love. This off-beat theme makes the performance relatable and raw. My only criticism would be that the comedy is sometimes forced.
Acrobatic Conundrum’s “Love & Gravity”
The story is centered on a group of friends that meet, experience heartbreak and play with the “conundrum” that is love. Ties between the characters run deep, manifesting themselves sexually, romantically and in the form of friendship.
What is most impressive about the show is the use of clothing as a prop and a symbol. The stage is warmly lit and a simple, old-fashioned clothesline is seen in the background. The actors consistently change outfits on stage and off. The scenes of them throwing clothing, changing from day to night wear and practicing impressive tricks in outfits that could be found in anyone’s closet made the show feel relatable. “Love & Gravity” highlights the love between characters in ways that parallel the life of the average mid 20-something-year-old.
The show’s main problem was a constant stream of comedy that feels more forced than funny. It is good that the show is not a two hour-long melodrama; however, the humor they sprinkled into every act followed a very scripted and skit-like format. The result was scenes that were only mildly funny at best. The show aims for realism with its characters relation to the audience and to themselves. Thus the exaggerated humor seemed out of place and unnecessary. The show would be better off with a more casual, conversational and otherwise organic approach to comedy.
Despite the forced quality of the show’s comedy, the performers create an elaborate story that sucked the audience in. I found myself consumed with the relationships being showcased. It was like watching an episode of “Friends,” if the cast of “Friends” had spent years learning the circus trade. Every time one of the performers grabbed a rope to begin an acrobatic adventure, they had a supporting character help hold the ropes right on stage. It was symbolic of how connected the cast is. Feelings of trust, love, happiness, despair and other emotional ties will make any hopeless romantic fall in love with this show.
One of the most interesting aspects is how the cast plays themselves instead of characters. The performers use their real names and experiences to communicate the show’s themes in a direct manner. This openness made the cast successful in forming an intimate relationship with the audience. The audience feels as if they are privileged enough to view the deeper side of the performers lives, even if it is still a show.
“Love & Gravity” runs for about two hours with a fifteen-minute intermission. Although the producing group is called “Acrobatic Conundrum,” the show is not solely focused on acrobats. Dancing, singing, juggling and hula hooping all took up large portions of the show. As each scene focused on a different relationship within the group, there also came a new type of circus act. The variety of the acts keeps the show interesting and makes it worth watching. But all these separate acts and stories made the show seem very disjointed. A more acrobatic based show may have kept it more uniform. Although the hula hooping was impressive and the singing warmed my heart, the performers were strongest on stage when in the air. Soft twirls and tricky jumps always had the audience ready to applaud.
My overall rating for this show would have to be an 8 out of 10. The storyline, theme and set were captivating. The performers were highly skilled, yet the show has a great deal of unlocked potential and the comedy needs an upgrade.
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