Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Pope’

It’s not often that you leave the theatre feeling privileged to have been in the audience, having witnessed something captivating, stimulating and entertaining. A fascinating story, brilliantly told, evocative design and performances you won’t stop talking about for some time. Something that can only happen live. You may have gathered already that this is a superb evening of theatre.

Andy Warhol’s career is flat-lining, stuck in one style, prices in decline. Jean-Michel Basquiat is the new kid on the block, a street artist who’s become the contemporary art world’s new poster boy. They are thrown together by Bruno Bischofberger, the art dealer they share, to create an exhibition that will hopefully add value to both their careers and become the talking point of the art community.

At the outset, Warhol is less than enthusiastic about the wildness of Basquiat and his work, whilst Basquiat is contemptuous of the decline of Warhol’s work from art to product, copying corporate logos and making silkscreen prints of celebrities. Though the collaboration happened the detail we see is of course somewhat speculative, but it seems both plausible and very real. Warhol is deeply conservative and Basquiat seemingly out of control. Over the three years they work together, the relationship evolves into a strong bond, but this is a multi-layered piece which looks at their respective personalities, backgrounds and inspiration as well as their relationship, but also covers the impact of business on art and how this can promote or derail it, or both. It held me in its grip throughout.

Anna Fleischle’s design takes us right into the warehouse and loft spaces of New York City’s artists, with superb projections by Duncan McLean. Paul Bettany is uncannily like Warhol in appearance and goes on to inhabit the character in a stunning performance. Jeremy Pope, in his UK debut, is mesmerising as Basquiat, a live wire pacing around his studio. There were moments in the second half when the magnetic presence of both resulted in an extraordinary silence. There’s fine support too from Alec Newman as the art dealer and Sophia Barclay as Basquiat’s sometime girlfriend; well, one of them!

Though he’s written 12 or so plays, most in his early career, Anthony McCarten is better known for some superb screenplays in recent years (The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody & Two Popes) which has clearly made him a master at characterisation and storytelling. The Young Vic’s AD Kwame Kwei-Armah has marshalled his actors and creative team to produce something very special, one of the best new plays I’ve seen in some time.

Read Full Post »