Los Angeles Theater Review: GOB SQUAD’S KITCHEN (YOU’VE NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD) (REDCAT)

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by Ella Martin on September 21, 2012

in Theater-Los Angeles

“YOUNG. SEXY. NEW. AND FULL OF LIFE.”

Gob Squad’s Kitchen, playing at REDCAT through Sunday, is an exquisite, provocative piece of experimental, experiential theatre.

The performance begins when the doors open and the cast invites the audience on a tour of the set.  Aided by a zigzagging floor map of arrows and lines, one journeys through three small spaces in which Gob Squad will soon perform live reenactments and reinterpretations of Andy Warhol’s 1960’s films, including the titular Kitchen.  In the mundane little kitchen itself, a man seated at the table (Bastian Trost) makes eye contact with you before offering a cool, German-accented, “Welcome to the 60’s.”

The hour and forty minute performance that follows runs an unpredictable course, overturning and exceeding expectations from start to finish. Its non-linear trajectory is supported by an ever-present, strangely natural energy that is generated as much by the audience as by those onstage.

Ella Martin’s Stage and Cinema review of GOB SQUAD’S KITCHEN at REDCAT Los Angeles

A fantastic ensemble comprised of four Gob Squad company members—for Thursday’s performance Simon Will, Bastian Trost, Sean Patten and Berit Stumpf—dexterously steers the spontaneous evening as scripted and unscripted events unfold.

Most of the action takes place behind a large screen on which live video footage is projected.  Even from behind this cinematic curtain, Gob Squad maintains close contact with the audience by using glances straight to camera to break the fourth wall.  This form-blending trick is extremely effective and uncannily theatrical.

Everyone has a part to play from the actors—who portrayed “multi-layered” versions of themselves circa 1965—to the audience members later chosen to portray these same actors.  As Berit says, “This is Megan, playing me, Berit, in Sleep.”  Even the props have more to them than meets the eye.  “This is Ralph’s Bran Flakes… and tonight, they will be playing Kellogg’s Corn Chips.”

Ella Martin’s Stage and Cinema review of GOB SQUAD’S KITCHEN at REDCAT Los Angeles

The dialogue alternates between meaningful and seemingly meaningless exchanges, and has a wonderful way of bringing out questions with answers and answers with questions.

Also notable is some bizarre humor, including an innuendo-filled series of breakfast references and some strange onstage touching.  There’s also some wacky socio-political performance art, in which Sean pelts a partially-dressed Berit with cornflakes, antagonistically repeating, “10,000 years of patriarchy, how do you feel about it?”  The rest of this multi-layered treat is best left for you to discover and enjoy.

Gob Squad’s Kitchen takes footage, ideas and feelings that were formerly incomprehensible and transforms them into a stimulating, communicative, and energizing experience.  This is not to be missed.

Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had it So Good)
REDCAT in Los Angeles
scheduled to end September 23rd, 2012
for tickets call 213-237-2800 or visit “http://www.redcat.org

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