The Young Vic. February 26, 2022
Order vs chaos
Light vs dark
Old guard vs new
Establishment vs freedom
Both with fears. Both incredible artists. Both coming to art from different ideologies.
This is all about the two performances that are stunning.
Bettany is excellent as Warhol; all self-conscious ticks and discomfort. He shines in the second half as Basquiat pushes Warhol to reveal his true self and not the persona he hides behind. (Apparently it’s 20 years since Bettany was last on the London stage. Welcome back.)
Pope as Basquiat roams and leaps about the stage with a freedom that serves to highlight Warhol’s tension even more. Basquiat is a ball of energy, colour and ideas. He’s emotionally open and vulnerable. He’s endearing. He draws you to him.
This play shares the first day they meet to collaborate and what we assume is the last. They discuss art, their philosophies, their hopes and fears. They share their lives. They open up to each other.
I loved it. From the moment you walk in and the 80s music is pumping (thanks to the live DJ – genius move), each half flew. It was fascinating to see opposites attract and a friendship form. One that would define the New York art world of the 1980s.
4/5 Opposites attract.