Experimental German/UK theatre group Gob Squad, presented Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good) as part of the World Theatre Festival held at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Upon entering the theatre, audience members are given a tour backstage of three set areas (bed, kitchen, lounge). We then take our seats and watch these set areas through live video-feeds on a large projected screen, broken up into three panels in black and white.
Gob Squad’s aim is to recreate Andy Warhol’s 1965 film, Kitchen as well as his other note worthy drug infused videos Sleep and Screen Tests. But it is not a simple recreation, as the cast break the fourth wall in Epic Theatre style, discussing how they are going to recreate the authenticity of the 60’s as well as giving a direct address to the camera with a running commentary on the recreation. Add a strong dose of audience participation and you have a unique theatrical experiment – the most successful and involved to date.
Throughout the show, each of the four cast members replaced themselves with audience members who donned headphones and participated via instructions given by one of the cast, or simply answered questions or ‘slept’ in front of the camera. The execution of which was so extraordinary including a 3-minute kiss with a female cast member and a female audience participant, I wondered if they were stooges. However, seeing the fore mentioned audience member recount the experience to her friends after the play alleviated any suspicions.
While at times, the mostly improvised main scene extended it’s used by date, there were still the other two video-feeds to keep the audience engaged. Perhaps, audience’s familiar with Warhol’s work would have a deeper appreciation for the work, but Gob Squad gives enough detail to fill in the blanks for everyone’s enjoyment.
Gob Squad’s Kitchen is not only an experiment with the form of theatre through use of video and other theatrical devise such as improvisation, commentary and direct address, but through the homage to Warhol, the piece is an understanding of the 60’s, addressing themes of women’s rights, gay rights, and sexual freedom.
For more information on the Gob Squad’s work, visit their website: www.gobsquad.com