The Oxford Dictionary has two definitions for the word Stunner: a shocking piece of news or an attractive person (specifically a woman). Palomar Theatre combines these two definitions in their immersive online piece titled Stunner. The performance is hosted on an interactive platform that first and foremost allows you to dive into the lives of different women in different stages of their lives.
Stunner is set up as an art gallery: As you enter the platform you receive your ticket and an outline of the exhibition and the exhibition halls. Each floor explores a different theme, and – don’t worry – mirrors are provided on every floor. Whilst browsing the exhibition you build up a score (or is it just your own vanity?). On your way through the gallery you come across turtles, “better soft serving”, and a lot of art.
To experience Stunner, the gallery requires me to make decisions. Food, colours, shapes, images, surrealism, or realism – there are lots of options to choose from. Each option I pick sends me further into the growing artwork. Following two or three decisions are videos that combine what you have learnt so far and what is yet to be explored. A mix of animation, acting, visuals, and audio input give life to the stories of women in the modern world. Women’s relationships with their families, their bodies, their art, their sense of self and so many more concepts are hidden among the pieces of art that unfold in front of my eyes. Where one video clip is showing the creation of an actual painting, another is set up as a video game, or has little cut-outs of women exploring their connection to faith (or their professor).
Stunner is as visually stunning as it is intricately designed. Through poetry, music, and imagery it tries to explain and share the beauty of what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first-century. And even though the whole gallery only encompasses one family, it has a lot of inspiring ideas to share. Stressful at times, calm, quiet and comforting at others it sheds light on concepts such as the fact that women can embrace that they are whole human beings, men’s opinions of women cannot give them strength, and what is it that makes a good woman.
The piece does not shy away from expressing that it tries to be art in its fulness, however cryptic or bizarre it might be. As a strikingly impressive and immersive online gallery it embraces the idea: “Like what you see / see what you like”. And I can only agree. I definitely see what I like, and I like what I see.
Stunner is playing online at the Camden People’s Theatre until 13 June 2021. For more information and tickets visit Camden People’s Theatre online.