From Jana Petersen. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jana_petersen.
“Welcome to the Factory,” the ticket lady uttered. “Factory” — okay, I get it — but we’re still in the Studio Theatre – right? I was having déjà vu to Rocky Horror screenings on Halloween night…
As we walked upstairs to the smaller theater, the smell of tobacco wafted through the staircase and people stood scattered in scantily clad ’60s clothing (read: tight pants, unbuttoned shirts) throughout: why were the actors not behind stage? As we walked up the staircase, one of the “greeters / actors” came running to us, “Hey, girls! When are we going out? How you ladies doing? Welcome to the Factory.”
The Studio Theater just extended its run of “Pop!” through August 28. It is at 1501 14th Street NW, corner of 14th and P Streets. POP! was written by Maggie-Kate Coleman and Anna K. Jacobs; directed by Keith Alan Baker, with Hunter Styles and Jennifer Harris.
Laura and I caught our seats in the nick of time. By the time we sat down, the cast of bohemian eccentrics had just begun wrapping up their “pre-performance performance”; they had been weaving in and out of the audience, engaging us as though we were part of the “Factory” scene. One of the actors even posed nude on “stage” for a photo shoot that was happening at the “Factory.” Back to year 2011 in D.C., we may or may not still be scarred by this…
The murder-mystery musical opens with a song communicating Warhol’s clichéd apathy: a mobile made of various empty paper bags descends from the ceiling and Warhol (played by Tom Street) sings – “if you have a paper bag / an empty paper bag / you can see it for money / you can hang it on a wall / and people will love you.”
The musical continues with the introduction of Warhol’s remaining entourage and most importantly, Valerie Solanas, the hyper-militant feminist who runs S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting Up Men), and who (spoiler alert!) eventually shoots Warhol out of frustration with his disinterest in her proposed film.
Ninety minutes later, though a talented cast of characters with a creative and fun set design, I left the “Factory” wanting to learn so much more about each character through a script dictated by a day-to-day — as opposed to one dictated by one event – Warhol’s shooting. What were each character’s motivations? How about each of their relationships to Warhol? What about each of their backgrounds to getting to the “Factory”?
I wanted to feel like a real fly on the wall — maybe a viewer to an extended “pre-performance performance”? In fact, it may just be the 15 minutes leading up to the performance that start to answer the question: “What really went on in the Factory”? Except… maybe less nudity next time.
Borderstanis, have you been out to see it yet? What did you think?