is dead. But who is Samo? And why is that strange woman powdering
her nose so nervously? Or the drunk so filled with vitriol?
it turns out, is a graffiti artist. Tonight is to be his reincarnation
as John Michel Basquiat, a serious artist in the New York art scene,
1987. The stage is set for the party with balloons and an assortment
of 1980s paraphernalia at the back. The only person missing is Samo.
are introduced to his girlfriend, Fabio, his art-dealer, Cortès
and the now-ageing and rather camp Andy Warhol, the characters of
this 3-hander. The man himself is but fleetingly incarnated through
Andy's ironic use of an OHP to demonstrate his nondescript upbringing.
yet this figure holds those on stage so powerfully that there must
be a reason for the pull. They are united only in their claims upon
the man. His absence explains the void at the heart of the play,
if not in the characters' lives.
superficiality of the art scene is conveyed through a blend of accent,
costume and characterisation: Fabio's frenetic movements and mindlessly
enthusiastic coke-snorting, Andy's drawling and jaded air which
appears only partly affected and Cortès' grovelling attentions:
a superb side-kick lacking his owner.
enough, it becomes clear that these characters have no real hold
over the mythical Samo. Their need for him, for his talent and marketability
fills the play. That Samo is black only heightens his appeal.
also allows the characters to soliloquise, each in turn adopting
Iago's lines from Othello. This conveys their manipulations of Samo,
their patronising of his race and perceived credulity. Andy's spaced-out
recital of Othello's final speech shows a realisation of their ultimate
failure, and of Samo's, or John's, independent success.
entertaining play, combining strong acting with a novel view of
1980s New York.