28 September 2012

Review: Hello my name is

Hello my name is
Theatre Works and Sans Hotel/Nicola Gunn
19 September 2012
Theatre Works
to 29 September

Hello, my name is Anne-Marie and Nicola Gunn made me confront one of my greatest public fears.

Like many theatre goers, I like the safe dark space that secures my anonymity from the performers in the lights.  Creator and performer Gunn likes to bring us into the same space. After all, what's the point of performing if there isn't an audience to share it with?

Audience participation! I can hear you running away. Come back. It's ok. Really. This show really is safe and easy and fun. Except what she made me do.

Hello my name is finds us in a white and welcoming community hall. The plastic chairs are in a non-contronting circle, there's free tea and coffee for a donation, and we're not sure if we're booked for a games night, scrap booking class, breath and yoga forgiveness workshop or an AA meeting.

As soon as Nicola says 'Hello, my name is Nicola' in multiple languages, there's no doubt that the night is going to be far more curious and interesting than any community learn to crochet class. Part personal confession, part astute social commentary and part absurdly gorgeous vision, she takes us beyond the passive aggressive bitterness of a community worker into the passion and frustration of an artist and exposes the beauty of conga lines, pink Care Bears, hand holding and falling glitter.

But what did I have to do in public?

There was a karaoke machine, so I sat in a mid-distance spot, hoping to project nonchalance rather than the truth that I'd rather flash than sing in public. I was safe. Then there was the dancing. I'm blessed with the inability to move with any semblance of grace or coordination, but everyone took part and even I could keep up. I hoped to be allowed to play Scrabble or to knit in public (so my theatre experience really would be like sitting on my couch), but I wasn't that lucky. 

When given paper and my choice of pens/pencils/charcoal, I was thrilled at the the thought of writing in public. But one doesn't write with charcoal. And as the realisation hit, I was ready to jitterbug to that karaoke machine and sing "Wake me up before you go go" before I was ready to DRAW in public. 

It wasn't pretty. And anyone sitting near me will confirm that it's best for everyone to keep drawing implements away from me. But I did it, and if art is about exposing and confronting fears, then Nicola Gunn re-defined cathartis for me.

Hello my name is leaves no space to hide in the dark, but don't be scared of the light because this hilarious, confronting, beautiful and weird show will leave you smiling and feeling so much better for the experience.

This appeared on AussieTheatre.com

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