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The value of fear: Eve Gordon, acrobat, actor, director

Dec 1, 2015 Theatre

Simon Wilson meets acrobat, actor and director Eve Gordon.

This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Metro. Photo: Stephen Langdon. 

Eve Gordon lies on the floor, propped against an old couch. She’s relaxed, but still she’s like a coiled spring. Small and intense, with hair that’s all about the fringe and the purple streak, she grins and grins and stares straight into you, as though at any moment she might burst into the air to perform some dazzling acrobatic wonderment.

Read Simon Wilson’s review of Ithaca.

But despite that presence, it’s her hands that really stop you. To look at them, you wouldn’t pick what work she does. Cleaning the hulls of ships without gloves, possibly. They’re so raw and calloused, maimed by big old red sores that never get a chance to heal.

Gordon is a circus acrobat. Crap hands. Regular pain. Her partner Mike Williams, who plays Odysseus in their new show Ithaca, has retired from acrobatics because of a busted shoulder. He’s confined to acting now.

“Dancers lose their hips,” says Gordon, “actors their voice. For us, it’s the shoulders.” She shrugs, a gesture she may one day not be able to do. “It’s because you have to do infinite rotations of all parts of your being.” She says it with a bright smile.

Ithaca is Homer’s story of Odysseus’ long journey home, set in the future, in space. It’s contemporary circus with a strong narrative drive, courtesy of playwright Thomas Sainsbury, and music by Johnny Cash as reinvented by Matthias Jordan and Jol Mullholand. A 90-minute show in the old dinner-theatre style, with food and drink for the audience, only this one has six circus performers, three actor/singers and two musicians on stage. That’s one big and extraordinary night out.

Gordon works every day. High above the ground, perfecting the art of soaring, spinning, tumbling, floating in thin air. And working out too: cardio, anaerobics, strength work, making her mind stronger.

Especially that last one. She’s been doing it for years but she’s still scared of heights, and she says that’s a good thing. She paraphrases the Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca: “You need a constant and heightened awareness of death in order to live.”

Ithaca: The Dust Palace at Q Theatre, to December 11,


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