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September 8, 2008 | by  | in Theatre |
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Jeff Koons

If art is a mirror to life, then there must be some pretty freaky artists out there. Jeff Koons, written by Rainald Goetz, is titled after one of the world’s most popular, and by necessity controversial, artists. The show is an examination of the late-80’s New York postmodern pop-art scene, and playfully mocks the looks, icons and lifestyles of the era in a bid to explore the nature of art and the temperament of artists themselves. Directed by the incomparable Willem Wassenaar, Jeff Koons is a show which every art junkie should take a look at.

The show plays out as a collage of images, sounds, conversations and ideas. The back wall of the Bats theatre is painted a bright yellow, its strong visual effect matched by a truckload of yellow balloons and balls which drift accross the stage throughout the show. When the actors emerge, it’s immediately apparent that this startling colour scheme was really the only option available to match the exuberant aesthetic of the costumes. Tacky in a wholesome kind of way, designer Daniel Williams relishes in ploughing the feel of late 80s kitsch pop art.

There’s no real narrative to speak of here. The show is presented as a series of fragments, mostly comprised of ramblings and musings which are shared amongst the cast, although at various points performers act as narrators to the stage action. Players Colleen Davis, Nick Dunbar, Dan Musgrove, Sophie Roberts, Renee Sheridan and Robert Tripe are a true ensemble, well paced, balanced and always smooth. Each member has a chance in the limelight, every one fluidly using their voices and bodies to flesh out the rich tapestry that is Jeff Koons.

What’s particularly intriguing about the show is that for quite a while you’re not entirely sure if it’s taking the piss or not. It soon becomes apparent that the show is totally taking the piss, but this mocking tone is cleverly used to call attention to the values and aspects of art which occupy the minds of those enmeshed in the postmodern art scene. As one of the actors neatly sums up: “Jesus Christ, an artist? What kind of life can that be?” If we were to look to this show for the answer, it would clearly have to be a pretty wacky one.

Written by Rainald Goetz
Translated by David Tushingham
Directed by Willem Wassenaar

At Bats
August 26 – 30 and
The Mighty Mighty
September 2 – 6

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