Nicola Gunn is no sitting duck when it comes to discussing the human condition while simultaneously dancing the equivalent of a cross-country marathon in her one-woman show.
Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster was developed by Gunn in response to the dilemma she found herself in while running along a canal in Ghent, Belgium, where she came across a man with two children throwing stones at a duck.
Incorporating a seemingly free-associative text with subversive humour, she manages to intersperse explorations of human morality with her own version of trivial pursuit. It runs the gamut from snippets about Hercule Poirot, heart surgery, Peter Singer, Hitler and vegetarianism, to Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, who believed marionettes were a viable alternative to actors.
Jo Lloyd’s brilliant choreography evokes the raw energy of Vaslav Nijinsky’s controversial ballet The Rite of Spring, with snapshots from the Russian story ballet Swan Lake and its predecessor, Fokine’s The Dying Swan.
Anna Pavlova’s famous death scene in The Dying Swan is given a humorous makeover by Lloyd as Gunn muses on death beds and vulnerability.
The starkness of an all-white set, simple costume and synthesised electro-pop from the ghetto blaster transforms into a dramatic finale of dazzling lasers and swelling music as Gunn dons an elaborate cloak-of-many-colours (designed by Shio Otani) – reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen’s Ugly Duckling growing into the beautiful swan.
Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster is a modern fairy-tale, a discourse on personal liberation and fragility, and a sardonic look at the rise and/or fall of artists and ducks.
At one point Gunn asks: “Can everyone win?” She certainly has with this production.
Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster is being presented by Vitalstatistix and Mobile States at Waterside in Port Adelaide until November 29.