Brave Space

There’s a famous quote from the film The Third Man. “In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” It’s wrong, of course. The cuckoo clock is generally through to have been invented in Bavaria. But Brave Space proves its entire theory is wrong too.

Art created from joy and defined by teamwork

That’s because Brave Space isn’t art created from strife, but art created from joy and defined by teamwork. From the very beginning, you are warmly welcomed into the venue and politely informed of the ground rules, which included being asked to wear a mask to help protect an immune-compromised member of the all-female troupe and each other. From here on in we become part of their community and are invited into their intimate blanket created space.

If you were lucky enough to have one in your primary school, playing with a parachute was one of the best parts of PE. Brave Space starts with a light violet coloured blanket that is similar to a large parachute or tent. The troupe start the performance underneath this material, with the audience in a circle around them. They begin to undulate, creating spikes and ripples with increasing intensity, as if you’re watching stalactites and stalagmites form in supersonic speed. Before long, a woman emerges, rising high above everyone, with the material wrapped around her, creating the illusion of a giant skirt. For a moment she seems like a giant Queen, a modern Boudicca. Then she descends, becomes another member of the white-clad troupe, and the acrobatics begin.

Everything the troupe performs, from spinning in a cyr wheel, to duo trapeze, to balancing on the very ends of poles, is completed with love and support. The performers smile broadly throughout, radiating joy, and in between movements there are hugs: are the women lovers, sisters, friends? The specifics don’t matter, the love displayed is pure and unconditional. If a hoop is occasionally dropped whilst juggling, it’s quickly picked up, their smile unbroken. That love is shared with the audience too, who are brought in to assist with certain stunts. They might be asked to simply pull on a rope, or hold a hula-hoop, but the message is clear: we trust you to be a valued part of our community.

Brave Space won’t be right for everyone. You need to feel comfortable with standing up or sitting on the floor for extended periods of time, packed in next to other audience members in an enclosed space. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t try to help you: chairs are available upon request before the show.

The impressive acrobatics wowed the audience from young to old, particular the trapeze work which really showcases the skill and strength of the performers. Aside from the talent displayed, what sets this apart from any other circus show is the warm and fuzzy feeling they’ve managed to create in their giant cosy blanket fort. In a world that feels more divisive and separated and full of worry than ever, sitting under a blanket next to strangers whose eyes are lit up with wonder is a beautiful thing. The ultimate message of Brave Space? Danger and fear exist, but love can conquer all.

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Reviews by Elanor Parker

Pleasance Courtyard

Ultimatum

★★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Joseph Parsons: Equaliser

★★★
Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows

Brave Space

★★★★★
ZOO Playground

Aidan Goatley: Tenacious

★★★★
Just The Tonic at the Caves

CUMTS: SLEEPOVER

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Brave Space is the building of a blanket fort, sneaking under a hoop skirt, an impulsive congregation in the tiniest of tents. Starting as a puddle of fabric on the floor, it grows to encompass a wondrous world of circus. Intimate and low tech, the audience sits nose-to-nose with an all-female cast of bold physical artists to build the world we want to live in, even for only a few shared moments. 'Brave Space imagines a kind of dystopian utopia, in which peril is made present but survivable, even beautiful. Its living, beating heart remains constant' (Chicago Tribune).

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