The reviews are in for the latest high-profile production at The Young Vic theatre in London – The Collaboration, the world premiere of Anthony McCarten’s thrilling new drama, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah.
The Collaboration stars Hollywood movie star Paul Bettany (The Avengers, Wandavision) as Andy Warhol, and Jeremy Pope (Hollywood, Choir Boy) as Basquiat.
Set in New York in 1984, 56 year old Andy Warhol’s star is falling, and Jean-Michel Basquiat is the new wonder-kid taking the art world by storm. When Basquiat agrees to collaborate with Warhol on a new exhibition, it soon becomes the talk of the city. As everyone awaits the ‘greatest exhibition in the history of modern art’, the two artists embark on a shared journey, both artistic and deeply personal, that re-draws both their worlds.
This play is soon to become a film, also starring Paul and Jeremy; but try and see the real thing before it leave the Young Vic.
Check out reviews from all major UK press including The Times, Guardian, Independent, Telegraph and Evening Standard.
"Bettany is a neurotic Andy Warhol in this fantastically enjoyable play"
"Anthony McCarten’s Young Vic pacy production is an exercise in giving the audience what they want"
"Anthony McCarten's play is a fantastically enjoyable exercise in giving the audience what they want. It's packed with gossipy insights – from Basquiat's sexual relationship with Madonna to Warhol's fight to conceal his homosexuality from journalists – and quaint moments of humour, like when Warhol is unable to resist whipping out a hoover at Basquiat's filthy flat. And Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah's production is just as crowd pleasing."
"Paul Bettany brings agony and ecstasy to the role of Andy Warhol"
"This Young Vic production imagines the unlikely - but true - encounter between the doyen of pop art and Jean-Michel Basquiat"
"Gee, wow - Basquiat and Warhol play brings fireworks to the stage"
"Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope match each other in brilliance in this study of art, commerce and identity"
"There’s a synergy here that director Kwame Kwei-Armah usefully cultivates: Bettany returning to theatre after 25 years, fourteen of them spent in Marvel’s Avengers franchise; Warhol returning to paint after 25 years of parties, gossip and lucrative printmaking; Pope, nominated for two separate Tony Awards in his first year on Broadway and catapulted to success like Basquiat. The parallels aren’t exact, but there’s both an empathy and a tension between the actors and their roles."
"Humanises artistic icons"
"For a play about mould-breakers, it’s structurally and dramatically formulaic, but McCarten has a real knack for humanising icons – for digging beneath the image to reveal the flaws, the contradictions and emotional complexity. He tackles big themes with a lightness of touch – the always blurred boundary between art and commerce, an artist’s ownership of their own image – and while there are arguably places where the play could dig deeper, it has a real warmth to it and resists sentimentality. Though it is set near the end of both men’s lives – Warhol would go first from medical complications, Basquiat soon after from a drug overdose – its lens is trained on their lives."
"Day-glo portrait of two pop art titans packs a real punch"
"If there are comic moments, the play — soon to become a film, with the same leads — delivers a bleak portrait of a world where the mighty dollar is all that matters. The fleeting reference to a painting about police brutality hints at parallels with Black Lives Matter. As McCarten reminds us, Basquiat wasn’t really from the streets: his background was thoroughly bourgeois. Warhol, nevertheless, prefers to drool over the young man’s “exotic” roots. Noble savage syndrome strikes again."
"Warhol and Basquiat mix paint and trade blows"
"Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope excel as the art world legends in Anthony McCarten’s account of a fractious friendship"
"An ebullient production under Kwame Kwei-Armah’s direction (there is even a live DJ though, oddly, the music is only cranked up in between scenes), it has two star turns in the central performances and a spectacular set from Anna Fleischle: paint-splattered floorboards and white brick walls which recreate the look of a loft studio. Duncan McLean’s magnificent projections conjure the New York skyline on semi-diaphanous panels."
"‘Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope Can’t Make Drama Out of This Bio"
"From “The Theory of Everything” to “The Two Popes” via “The Darkest Hour” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” bio-dramas are McCarten’s stock-in-trade. He and the same cast and director are already at work on a movie of “The Collaboration,” in which the story might well work better: Being able to show the whole story on screen could bring this material to life."