Review: Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good)

The German-British performance troupe gives you 15 minutes of fame.

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  • Photograph: David Baltzer

    Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good) at Public Theater

  • Photograph: David Baltzer

    Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good) at Public Theater

  • Photograph: David Baltzer

    Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good) at Public Theater

  • Photograph: David Baltzer

    Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good) at Public Theater

Photograph: David Baltzer

Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good) at Public Theater

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

There must be a method to how Gob Squad selects audience participants for its live-video stunts. The English and German wags respectfully pass over spectators shrinking in mortification; they also don't choose anyone who looks too eager to join the fun onstage. They must seize on people hovering between embarrassment and exhibitionism. However it works, the volunteers they coaxed out of their seats at the performance I attended brought unexpected magic to this clever and haunting riff on Andy Warhol's 1960s cinema, the obvious precursor to today's ego-welter of YouTube clips and reality-TV programming.


Of course, not all the credit goes to those four sweet kids (Ben, Ariel, Stephanie and Adam). The members of Gob Squad are old hands at breaking down barriers between performers and public, establishing the intimacy and trust needed to weave a civilian into the mediated mise-en-scène. Kitchen starts off with the audience watching a movie screen that stretches across the width of the Newman Theater, with three mini soundstages behind it. There, actors re-create—with calculated lameness—Warhol's movies Sleep, Screen Test and Kitchen, each a way of turning people and locations into found objects. Seemingly formless and artless, these conceptual flicks hold revolutionary energies for the Warhol-besotted Gob Squaders.


As the performers bicker, improvise and gossip about their lives, they start to playfully break the fourth wall (and the movie-reality boundary) and venture into the audience to find replacements. Soon, all four principals are played by ticket-holders wearing headsets, being fed lines and actions by performers sitting in the house. It's a deftly orchestrated and very funny layering of reality, fiction, historicity and futurity. Four strangers became conduits to something tender, sad and mysterious. Now I wish they'd picked me.


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Public Theater. Devised and performed by Gob Squad. Dir. Ruth E. Sternberg. 1hr 45mins. No intermission. See complete event information.

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