Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster at Southbank Centre
Weird but enjoyable: that about sums up Nicola Gunn’s Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster. The one-woman monologue explores an attempt at navigating the moral complexities of being good, and whether or not to intervene in a situation where something bad is happening. In particular, this is about a woman who comes across a man throwing stones at a duck.
Gunn’s own description of the piece might be off-puttingly artsy: “attempting to question, probe and examine power relations… function of art in a social context… considers conflict and friction as fundamental aspects of human interaction…”. But the show itself is very accessible. Gunn’s script is full of witty silliness, making for an enjoyable experience.
But this monologue is not just constant verbal narration. There’s also, quite inexplicably at first, constant choreographed dancing (if you can call it that). Every sentence is punctuated with a leg-raise, a half-twirl or a hip-thrust. It’s all a little odd. But the nonsensical dancing makes more and more sense as the performance goes on, as Nicola slowly inducts the audience into her insanity. The seemingly random movements start to work well, building rhythm, becoming punchlines, and keeping focus.
With a name like Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster, people would be forgiven for thinking this is two separate shows back-to-back. And they wouldn’t be entirely wrong, given that the ending seems a total departure from the style and narrative of the first 80 minutes. Perhaps Gunn didn’t know how to end it and thought a creepy techno light show might distract people from that fact, or perhaps – speaking of intervention – it’s a dramatisation of 350 people witnessing a woman having a mental breakdown onstage and saying nothing.
Aside from its offputting ending, Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster is an enjoyable and accessible piece. It certainly has a lot to say about human interaction, but ultimately it’s great fun to watch.
Featured photo: Nicola Gunn by Noor Jaffery
Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster is at Southbank Centre from 16th October until 16th October 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.