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In Performance: Nicola Gunn, Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster (COIL 2017)


Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster (COIL 2017)
Nicola Gunn

Jan 11 – 8:30pm
Jan 12 – 8:30pm
Jan 13 – 7:30pm
Jan 14 – 5pm

The Ellen Stewart Theatre @ LaMaMa – 66 East 4th Street, NY NY

Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster is Australian performer Nicola Gunn’s subversively funny moral quandry-turned-solo show. At the outset, Gunn recounts directly to us a true story: once in the not-too-distant past, while running alongside a canal in Belgium, she came upon a man throwing rocks at a sitting duck. Paralyzed by the scene, she asked herself, what should a good person do?

Like any question of right and wrong, Gunn’s work is deceptively simple. Bit by bit, she carefully asks us to consider each aspect of this situation: she’s a woman, he’s a man; she’s in a foreign country, he may be an immigrant, they don’t speak the same language; children are present; the list goes on and on, each new discovery sending her off down looping, fascinating, anecdotal spirals. Her earnest and sometimes-sardonic text is littered with disarming left turns, rich with insight but never too precious for a good laugh.

Working in tandem with the text is conversational, athletic movement choreographed by Jo Lloyd. With the rhythm evolving moment to moment, Gunn’s movement becomes her second self. It is the steady beating heart that drives even the most intellectual of moral questions; it communicates what lies unspoken, or a social image against her individual body, sometimes binding and sometimes setting her free. The movement carries Gunn across threshold after threshold, until she finds herself in the realm of questioning art itself, in all its potential solipsism. In one truly hysterical moment, she candidly asks us, “on our deathbeds, will we be thinking about how many one-woman shows we made?”

And when the complexity of Piece for Person grows so dense that we can barely see where we started, when it seems the only threshold we have not yet traversed is into the mind of the mother duck herself, designers Kelly Ryall (Music), Niklas Pajanti (Lighting), Martyn Coutts (AV), and Shio Otani (Costumes) shephard us into a divine ultraviolet duck revery that must be seen and felt to be believed.

Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti

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