Backbone (4 stars)

This article is from 2019


Stunning synchronised tumbling from Australia

With so many circuses in town, it's hard for them all to have something unique. This Australian troupe is in a league of its own in terms of the acrobats' balletic teamwork and original routines. There are several stunning sections of powerful, synchronised tumbling, or bodies neatly crossing each other mid-air like precisely aimed life-sized paper airplanes, so it's a pity they pad the action out with daft bursts of comedy.

Metal buckets of soil are earnestly upturned on the gymnasts faces, or a knight in a suit of armour creaks across the stage, maybe to give the performers a few moments to catch their breath, but actually just detracting from the much more impressive action.

Like when the laidback performers turn themselves into a human Rube Goldberg machine, and their floppy limbs trigger a domino effect of graceful jumps and stunts, or the bit where they all balance massive wooden poles on their foreheads, keeping them straight like upended spirit levels.

The audience gasps out loud a lot, either at fluid sequences of relentless rubbery gymnastics or moments when the group hoists someone up high towards the ceiling of the McEwan Hall. Naff humour aside, it's very impressive modern circus

Underbelly Bristo Square, until 26 Aug (not 19), 5pm, £17.50–£18.50 (£16.50–£17.50).


  • 4 stars

Underbelly and Gravity & Other Myths A high-octane spree of physical virtuosity, Backbone tests the limits of strength: physical, emotional, individual and collective. Staged with a deceptively DIY aesthetic and dispensing of trickery and distraction, this is circus that goes straight for the jugular and leaves no…