Why such a long wait to enter the theatre? Because it was important for each audience member to stroll through the set and see the all-important kitchen (as well as a bed and a chair in separate areas). This is where the action we would see projected on large screens in high-contrast black in white was actually taking place.
Four actors strive to recreate Andy Warhol's 1965 film, Kitchen. They play characters with their own names. Sean is the analytical one and he enjoys setting the scene, filling in some history and commenting on why he thinks Kitchen was a revolutionary piece of art and a watershed moment for culture. Sharon (as the Edie Sedgewick-type character) is more spontaneous and wacky.
Meanwhile Sarah is trying to recreate the film Sleep, while Simon is working on a Warholesque screen test where naturalism reveals a true representation of the subject. The whole scenario is improvised to some degree. It is irreverent, funny and self-referential. One character points out that much of the action may seem cliched to us now but at the time, portraying these antics (both hilarious and dull) onscreen was revolutionary.
For the first half of the show, this combination of elements is a sublime commentary on the haphazard process of creation and of the influence of Warhol's projects on the last fifty years of art. Over the course of the second half of the performance, each actor is replaced by an audience member outfitted with a headset to receive lines and directions. While the concept is intriguing (and means every performance is vastly different) I found the result to be more gimmicky than actually illuminating
While no knowledge of Warhol or his films is necessary to enjoy the performance, the more you know, the more details and references you will spot. Having seen a number of the screen tests during the PuSh show 13 Most Beautiful a few years ago, and having recently read an oral history of Warhol and the early Velvet Underground, definitely increased my enjoyment. Gob Squad's Kitchen is the kind of unusual show PuSh does best and it defies ordinary definitions of theatre. It could have pushed further but it was fun for what it was.
See it on Jan 17th or 18th in Vancouver.