Thursday, 12 November 2015

Piece For Person & Ghetto Blaster, Nov 11 2015 REVIEW ****

By Nicola Gunn & Sans Hotel
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, until Sunday Nov 15, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: **** 
 Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday Nov 13 and in print. KH

Nicola Gunn’s theatre is tantalising, entertaining, ridiculous and often bewildering in the best possible way. Mad little thing!

This marvellously eccentric, charming and mischievous performer has created yet another stylish, inventive and startling work called Piece For Person and Ghetto Blaster. Yes, the ghetto blaster is the other actor in the show.

Gunn’s idiosyncratic performance is a collision of stylised movement with vivid, direct-to-audience storytelling.

She starts then restarts a story about a woman who is running by the water in Ghent, Belgium, when she witnesses a man throwing stones at a sitting duck – I mean, a real duck sitting on the water.

Threaded between her observations and memories of this simple narrative are snatches of philosophical musings about peace and conflict, violence, morality, goodness and human nature in general.

There are diversions into the fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot and his alter ego, David Suchet, ironic comments about Gunn’s arty friends, acerbic allusions to a famous, Yugoslavian performance artist and affectionate references to the doomed lovers in the movie, Brief Encounter.

Simultaneously, Gunn is in almost perpetual motion (Choreography by Jo Lloyd), the incongruity of her movement often creating hilarity and moments of sharp irony or absurdity as she writhes, cavorts or rages, her exertion making her slick with sweat.

Accompanying her movement is Kelly Ryall’s evocative, subtle, electronic soundscape emitting from the onstage, big, fat ghetto blaster.

Gunn shifts point of view constantly, moving from the voice of the performer, Gunn, to the anonymous woman (perhaps also Gunn?), to the stone-throwing man and his two, small children.

She uses rhythmic transitions or cunning shifts of tone and atmosphere to keep us bemused and amused.

She taunts the audience, tricks and seduces us, lulls us into a sense of calm until her next outburst of rage about good and bad or the unknown man and his contemptible stone throwing.

At one point she invades the audience, climbing over us like a sassy cat, crawling on hands and knees over laps, perching on seats, resting on people’s shoulders, pulsating and leaving a sweaty trail.

Finally, in a mesmerising, technicolour and unforgettable scene, Gunn inhabits the duck itself, with its cool, sensible, simple view of the world as it sits quietly amidst an array of moving purple lights (Niklas Pajanti) that take us into a hypnotic space.

Gunn still surprises me and tickles my funny bone with every piece of theatre that she creates. Clever!

By Kate Herbert

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