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Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good)

Devised by the cast (after Andy Warhol)
Soho Theatre
(2008)

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The odds are that nobody reading this review will ever have attended one of those 1960s Happenings or seen a Warhol movie. This is therefore a once in a lifetime chance to experience what might really have been the advent of the pop era, the first base in a trip (pun absolutely intended) that eventually led to the permissive society.

Strangely, in the early stages of this theoretically unscripted show, Gob Squad manage to out-pretentious the master of the art, trying to deconstruct a genre that wasn't constructed in the first place. They make a virtue out of doing things badly and determinedly act as if untrained.

The performance takes place behind a stage wide screen but is then projected as a black and white triptych, generally featuring a sleeper (literally) and someone doing a screen-test with varied activity in an anachronistic kitchen taking place in between.

After the first nervous discussions about what the four-strong, rolling cast have in mind for the evening, they get into a reasonably faithful resurrection of this eight-hour, drug-fuelled monolith during which surprisingly little happens.

On this occasion, all using their own names, we had nervy Bastian (Trost), scarily outgoing Sarah (Thom), both amongst the event's six creators; aided by Edie Sedgwick lookalike Sharon (Smith) and world-weary Laura (Tonke).

The performance is spiced up by the introduction of four audience members who seem like the real thing though one can never be sure that they aren't planted colleagues. They perform, aided by voices in headphones, and become part of the Happening.

The luckiest is the man who gets to re-create the three-minute kiss with luscious German, Laura. The diffident chap on opening night will certainly reckon that his £17.50 was well-spent.

The Anglo-German company also provide many other entertainments à la Andy W, some of them even entertaining. They snort coffee and crisps, dance around, argue and generally imitate their heroes from the iconoclastic 1965 movie.

There is a strong sexual undercurrent running throughout and that plus the druggy zaniness carry the evening along towards a finale by which time the four surrogates have completely replaced the actors.

This is an unusual entertainment that is better than the original by 6½ hours. It is worth seeing as a piece of cultural history and amuses and intrigues by turns but too often for comfort it does make one grateful that such events are things of the past.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher