Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat are brought back to life in the new show ‘The Collaboration’ at the Young Vic.
Paul Bettany (The Avengers, Wandavision) is brilliant as Warhol and Jeremy Pope very good as Basquiat in the show that gives us a peak on a fictionalized collaboration by these two artists who were living in the same city at the time and who both travelled in the same circles.
It’s 1984 NYC, local girl Madonna was just hitting the big time, the AIDS crises was decimating the gay community, and closeted Ed Koch was mayor. A meeting arranged by their manager (Alec Newman) puts Warhol and Basquiat together to create a painting. Their time together, in both apartments of each man, is a chance for two very difficult high profile artists to come together to create more art, and make lots more money. Warhol extols about being shot by radical Valerie Solinas, while Basquiat is enjoying the ride of being famous, and selling paintings for lots of money, money that he keeps in the refrigerator, with plenty for drugs.
It’s sad but true that Warhol would be dead three years later, while Basquiat would die four years later of a drug overdose at the age of 27.
The world premiere of Anthony McCarten’s thrilling new drama, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, gives Bettany the role of a lifetime – he smashes playing Warhol – bringing him to life with his mannerisms, voice, awkward body language. Pope is also very believable as the young troubled artist. Set to a soundtrack fit for its time (Money Talks, I Feel For You, Smalltown Boy) played by an on-stage DJ, ‘The Collaboration’ will, if you are old enough, take you back to the 1980’s.
Review by Tim Baros