They Flipped It, They Flipped It For Real Sep 28, 2012

by Mark S

Screens on stage make me angry. Why the hell would I go to a live performance to sit and watch a screen? If I wanted a night of watching television or youtube there's a much easier and cheaper option that involves me and a couch and a bag of chips. Video often gets fused with live theatre, it's novelty that wore off in the 80s, but innovaters keep trotting it out, and for this patron of the arts, it never works since it's a distraction and the quality usually can't compare to what I can watch at home.

So when I saw that the Gob Squad's show was all about watching giant screens, I was panicked, by biggest pet peeve in theatre glorified with gigantic projections. When the show started, it was clear that Gob Squad had something very different in store for the audience, and they forever flipped how I felt about screens onstage.

When you walk into the theatre the cast of God Squad walks you through their set, so that you can "see that it's real". They're essentially doing a modern parody of the films of Andy Warhol, who filmed his fabulous arty friends trying desperately to act cool or natural on screen. The action takes place in a bed, in a chair, and in a kitchen and it's all filmed and mic'd up to make for a mind bending 2 dimensional projection performed live before you. A lot like watching your favorite band at the Gorge, you get the excitement and the great audio and atmosphere of a live performance, and the giant screen lets you see your heroes up close from a great distance. Except here you're watching really great comedic actors making fun of the hipsters of yesteryear. 

Gob Squad melted away my expectations and clearly had the audience loving their innovate new take on live performance. I think I may have been the only guy in the room that didn't LOVE IT; not because of my pet peeve for screens on stage, but because the pacing was slow and content was on the boring side. That's the point though, many of Warhol's films were slow and boring, because life is slow and boring and Warhol thought that was FABULOUS!

Still, despite my bitching, a bunch of laughs were had by all, and the cast's interactions with the audience were nothing short of brilliant in terms of on the spot improvisation. I will definitely check out Gob Squad again, hoping that next time they choose a more punchy subject to parody than the monotonous art flicks of Andy Warhol.