Gob Squad’s Kitchen @ Soho Theatre, London

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Gob Squad
Gob Squad’s Kitchen is a clever and hilarious homage to Andy Warhol’s film of the same name, one that is so authentic, it even results in 15 minutes of fame for members of the audience.Playing themselves, a cast of four perform an improvised tribute to Warhol’s 1965 film, originally created as a vehicle for Edie Sedgwick. Like the film there is seemingly no plot but a series of situations revolving around a kitchen and a group of actors as they try to recreate the film using props from the noughties.

Sharon Smith, Laura Tonke, Bastian Trost and Sarah Thom are four members of GobSquad, a German and English theatre and artists group based in Nottingham, Berlin and Hamburg. Over the course of the one and a half hour production they skilfully create improvised chaos, which at times gives the performance an air of a fantastic student drama production. However, there is no doubt that this is an artful and deliberate creation rather than amateur accident.

The action is filmed in black and white, by Miles Chalcraft, and projected onto a huge screen standing between the audience and the stage. The screen is split into three sections with one displaying the kitchen itself, one an ongoing ‘Warholesque’ screen test and one a recreation of Warhol’s first film – Sleep. The 60’s cinematic effect is completed with strong eye make up and the essential Edie style striped-jumper-and-tights costumes of Smith and Tonke.

It begins with Norman Mailer’s quote, postulating on the film’s importance as a historical document and influence for a whole generation. An extremely photogenic Bastion Trost opens the play by telling the audience earnestly that ..a hundred years from now people will look at Kitchen and say, “Yes, that is the way it was in the late Fifties and early Sixties in America.”

The majority of the work centres on the cast recreating famous moments and lines from the film with comedy aplomb. There are laughs as they eat layer cakes, and quote Warhol’s wish of not wanting there to be anything left of me while eating (again) Tesco Organic Cornflakes. The party scene where Smith recreates, among other things, Edie Sedwick’s bicycle leg movements while sitting on the table, brings the house down. However, it is not all comedy, the relationships between the actors are also explored. Although you’re never sure whether the feelings expressed are authentic or just part of the piece, the artistic rivalry, irritation and sexual attraction is subtly done and very convincing.

The pace quickens when they bring four members of the audience onstage to become superstars themselves by sitting in the screen test room, sleeping and even becoming Bastion as he takes a seat in the audience and improvises through a middle aged woman.

In a scene more reminiscent of Big Brother than Warhol, the cast is nearly eclipsed as, to much audience squirming, one of the volunteers enthusiastically takes part in a three minute kissing scene.

Gob Squad’s Kitchen may borrow as much from French and Saunders and Endemol as Warhol, but it still offers up a refreshing, funny and warm take on how his films have shaped our consciousness.

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