Soaring aerial feats and a script both heart-warming and heart-wrenching bring to life this family story of love, loss, resilience and hope, from Australia’s leading physical theatre company Legs On The Wall. Directors Josh Bond and Gavin Robins weave Writer Ursula Yovich’s words with spectacular aerial wizardry, and impressive set, video and sound design, conjuring this bold, tender and truly moving work.
A visually stunning, utterly heartbreaking and incredibly important piece of theatre – Man With the Iron Neck will have you gasping in wonder at its high-flying actors one minute and wrenching at your heart strings the next
A powerful new work from one of Australia’s leading physical theatre companies, about an Australian small town family finding hope and embracing life after grief.
More than a theatre show, Man With The Iron Neck tackles the growing rate of suicide amongst young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and provides an eye-opening yet transformative physical theatre experience full of hope for audiences.
When Ash loses his best friend Bear to suicide, he starts to idolise Vaudevillian stuntman The Great Peters, and Peters’ ability to jump from bridges with a rope around his neck and survive. Ultimately the fabled stuntman’s death proves to Ash the trick is just that - an impossible dream to follow, waking him from a haze of grief to find his own path to survival.
Written by leading Australian actor Ursula Yovich and featuring Legs On The Wall’s awe-inspiring aerial wizardry, this bold and tender portrait of survival melds text with daring physicality, and moving sound, set and video design. Co-directed by Gavin Robins (King Kong, How to Train Your Dragon) and Josh Bond (Djuki Mala, Circus Oz) whose own one-man show became the inspiration for this larger work.
This work contains adult themes and references to suicide that may be distressing to some audience members.
FROM THE DIRECTORS
We both come from a circus and physical theatre background, and so in our collaboration we were passionate about drawing from a physical, acrobatic and aerial language to illustrate this story. As a younger man, after losing a family member Josh was led into an existential and spiritual tug o' war. He became fascinated with stuntman Samuel Gilbert Scott, The Man With The Iron Neck, who would jump from great heights with a rope around his neck - and survive. This evolved into a concept for a show. Youth Suicide in this country is referred to as an epidemic and yet is shrouded in taboo. This is why we must talk through art, to find healing. In our experience, theatre is an agent for transformation – for the makers and perhaps more so for the audience. When we tell our own stories with our own voice it gives agency for others to use theirs. We aim to celebrate and embrace the muscularity, joy and risk-taking that physical theatre creates.
Josh Bond and Gavin Robins
“With a script by Ursula Yovich alternating between naturalistic dialogue and poetic monologues, stunning visual design… and extraordinary physical performances by the cast…this piece gives the audience gripping, confronting and moving physical theatre at its best.”
“Here is a play with the physicality and efficiency of a contemporary dance work. It maintains its momentum throughout, and the aerial sequences are expertly blocked and executed.”
“One of the most significant new works of theatre in this past decade”
“...gripping, confronting and moving physical theatre at its best.”
"heartbreakingly good...astonishes with its aerial feats...extraordinary moments of physical theatre, the play featured stunningly beautiful projected backdrops.”
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
“★★★★★ The playful scenes with the jeering kids hit the mark, dusting the play with the lightness and warmth the narrative needs to counter all the darkness and despair. Theatre such as this is so important as it demands we emotionally connect. While statistics can lose meaning, this play cuts through the numbers and requires us to engage with the devastation. We know that death by suicide is but one manifestation of the continued effect of colonialism and dispossession on Australia’s First Nations people. Man With The Iron Neck unapologetically ask us to face up to our nation’s dark history as we walk together towards a path of healing and reconciliation.
★★★★½ This is a powerful piece of theatre with a message. It focuses on Australia's Indigenous people but reaches out to the community as a whole.
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
“There are the usual thrilling aerial gymnastics and stunning visual and sound elements that are characteristic of this company. However, all these are subservient to Ursula Yovich’s play, a dramatic narrative about youth suicide. The sensitive way this has been treated by all involved makes this more than about indigenous concerns but powerfully embraces the entire issue of youth suicide”.
“A visually stunning, utterly heartbreaking and incredibly important piece of theatre – Man With the Iron Neck will have you gasping in wonder at its high-flying actors one minute and wrenching at your heart strings the next.” GLAM ADELAIDE, March 2019
“★★★★½ The physical theatre piece is by turns confronting, heart-warming and devastating – but ultimately hopeful”
Touring May - July 2020. See bottom of page for venue list.
Co-Director & Original Concept Josh Bond
Co-Director Gavin Robins
Playwright Ursula Yovich
Senior Creative Producer Cecily Hardy
Legs On The Wall Artistic Director Joshua Thomson
Composers Iain Grandage & Steve Francis
Set Designer Joey Ruigrok
Lighting Designer Matt Marshall
Costume Designer Emma Vine
Video Designer Sam James
Sound Designers Michael Toisuta with Jed Silver
Dramaturge Steve Rodgers
Cultural Consultant for tour David Cole
If you are interested in touring get in contact!
Arts on Tour
02 9699 7133