Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Parachutists or, On the art of falling

Theatre Mala Scena
Barbican Pit
(2010)

Parachutists production photo

A board with slots in it and a few holes through which pop balloons which inflate then whirr around the theatre with a brief fart. Jet propulsion drives them but gravity makes them fall to earth. Parachutists is a show about gravity, about falling to the earth, but it also about the way that people gravitate towards each other and fall for each other when the falling objects - feathers, socks, an apple, a suitcase, and tea poured from a pot - are followed by performers Kristina Bajza Marcinko and Tomislav Krstanovic.

With childlike glee these two chase each other around the panels on the cube of metal rods that forms the revolving set, pretending terror when they come face to face. The audience of juniors I saw it with (and some of them were very junior) thought the balloons, twiddling fingers, feathers and eyes seen through slots were very funny and those round me were certainly riveted in their attention as these grown up 'children' began to get more adventurous using lengths of cloth to simulate skydiving or parachuting, one riding on the other's back until, in goggles and aviators' suits, they disappear into the cube, the sides of which begin to flap and turn into illuminated wings that take off into the night.

This is a show that works because to its simplicity it adds skill and imagination. .It tours internationally so there is no ordinary dialogue, though feelings are expressed in a combinations of squeaks, wails and cries, and there is no attempt to explain the science involved in falling - but it is there, whether floating feathers, liquid or solids of every kind, including people. There is a moment where large panels are allowed to fall sideways, air slowing their descent so that the performers can swap places and still catch them early in their fall. There are reminders that things can fall on you and that you can fall and hurt yourself, whether falling forwards or on your backside (the audience particularly liked that bruised bum). The reasons can all be taken up by parents or teachers afterwards but lessons later, watching this 40-minute show is for fun. Oh, and if you arrive early you may get a chance to make your own parachute.

Barbican run ends 28th October 2010

Reviewer: Howard Loxton