A story of love, loss and flight from playwright Joanna Erskine and circus artist Missy McKinnon. Lenka and Sam decide to make a new life together, but a devastating loss drives them apart. When a doctor diagnoses Lenka with “gravity”, she sets out to discover how she can be free. A playful and poignant physical exploration of the taboos in love, loss, conception and family.
So is the brief outline for the physical theatre production. Part of the tenth anniversary Sydney Fringe festival, this production was a many years dream for the director Missy. A personally resonant story of her own miscarriage, this narrative is recognition of so many more women’s lives. Captured here in a beautiful and heartfelt story of family and personal journey.
The dynamic cast are built from the mould of circus and clown. The musician deliberately joins a parade of the developing characters. Her music adds to the path of the characters along with the audience response. Mama and Papa deliver the purpose of the narrative as any clown can in the circus ring. The parents’ dialogue in grummelot/gibberish that speaks to every member of this audience. They are our own families, or the neighbours over the back fence of the inner west, they are the invasive parents nosying into their child’s life in both a provocative and yet ultimately powerful way. They only want the best for their child.
Pressure and encouragement from Mama and Papa lifts Lenka with a positive push and yet becomes a real part of the conundrum into which she finds herself falling. There is so much within this gently told visual, physical tale that every member of the audience can relate to. Beautifully filled with metaphor for new love and lifted spirits. For the romance and the loss each as sudden. Each knocks the young lovers from their feet. How can they get through this?
The hour travelled seamlessly as the story unfolded. The lifts and love through trapeze, the loss through an almost magicians juggling toss of the apple ‘ball’ seed. The narrative is at once so gently resonant. We all hold our breath as Sam and Lenka are lifted by each other’s strength. They will survive is the message left with me. The circus, clowning, physical theatre is a perfect vehicle for a subject of so much nuance. Performances of all the talent no less remarkable than that of the initial storytellers, Joanna and Missy. Bravo!
DIAGNOSIS : GRAVITY was performed on the 1st & 4th September at the Legs On The Wall Hub, 91 Canal Street, Lilyfield.
Written by Joanna Erskine
Directed by Danielle McKinnon
Lenka by Catherine Wait
Sam by Sam Plummer
The Musician – Kate Reid
Mama by Debra Batton
Papa by Ira Seidenstein
Photography by Marcos dos Santos