Friday, 21 September 2012

Hello my name is, Sep 20, 2012 ***1/2

By Sans Hotel and Theatreworks
Theatreworks, Sep 18 to 29, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 20, 2012
Stars: 3&1/2
Full review will appear after publication in Herald Sun on Sun, Sep 23. KH
Nicola Gunn (L) in Hello my name is

NICOLA GUNN'S NEW SOLO WORK, Hello my name is, is an event rather than theatre, a community development rather than a play, and playful rather than earnest.

In anyone else’s hands, this type of work can look and feel pretentious, indulgent or alienating, but Gunn’s eccentricity, simple charm, directness and vulnerability, her unveiling of her own neuroses and musings, make this a gently engaging evening.

On entering the space, the audience knows that this is no ordinary show when we see plastic chairs in a circle, fluoro lighting and Gunn playing table tennis and wearing shorts and a T-short boasting, “I’m a volunteer”.

Her performance veers from hilarious satire of earnest do-gooders running community workshops or self-help groups, to barbed social commentary, introspective storytelling and poignant self-analysis.

Gunn is not really solo on stage as she has the entire audience as extras or participants in the evolution of this intentionally shambolic and loosely structured work that changes in each performance.
She introduces herself in various languages, all translating as, “Hello, my name is Nicola”, then leads us through an inspired agenda of activities including a community walk, life drawing, knitting, karaoke and scrabble.

The cheerful first half keeps us guessing at what Gunn will do next, and the warm, joyful ending almost allows one to forgive the slightly flabby middle section, although Gunn will lose those who loath audience participation or crave more theatricality.

Gunn’s sense of the absurd is bracing and we all leave wearing a broad smile and with an experience of communicating with strangers in a hearty and positive way.

By Kate Herbert 

Director, Nicola Gunn; dramaturg, David Woods; Video, Pier Carthew; lighting, Gwen Holmburg-Gilchrist; design Nicola Gunn & Lisa Höbartner

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