Chanje Kunda walks on stage, and at first I don’t really connect with her. Or rather, she doesn’t have the kind of immediate presence that shines from some performers and does some of their work for them. Time passes, and Chanje takes us from one to another aspect of an exploration of physics and parenthood, sexuality and mysticism - it’s clear her everywoman quality is key to the show’s success. She’s a black woman bringing up her son singlehanded, looking for answers since splitting up with her partner. And she finds them from physicists, philosophers, and lapdancers.
The carnal and the cosmic have always gone together. Both are concerned with immersion in something potentially overwhelming. In exploring what’s beyond the self, it’s no surprise you discover a lot about yourself. That’s what makes Chanje’s show work.
Chanje’s identity is blurred in so many ways, artistically as well as socially. She’s a poet. A dancer. A comedian. A journalist. All of these skills are used to chronicle the adventures she has trying to make sense of herself, of the universe, and of attraction, the force which connects them and all of us.
I like that Chanje didn’t present clearcut answers. Her questions are just too big for any conclusions to be more than placeholders. Instead, and in the spirit of what she learns about physics, she occupies several positions simultaneously, each of them present and implicit, so that every viewer gets the Chanje they want.
All of that sounds heady, but in practice the show is playful, exploratory, moving, and funny. Superposition is a kaleidoscope, colliding concepts like a dramatic version of CERN. There are thoughts on the cosmos. Bitter words from a son who feels alienated at school thanks to having an artist for a mum. A three-part lesson on how to be sexy in high heels. Lapdancing as a metaphor for physics – or is it the other way round?
The ideas are big and are matched by the emotions they bring up. That’s what makes it a success, and an unusual and brave one. Chanje took risks concocting Superposition, and they’re ones that pay off with a show that’s smart and sassy, personal and profound. It’ll be fascinating to see what she does in the future.
Superposition Wonderland was at Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 9 March 2018.
Chanje Kunda website