CULTURE OF DESIRE

* Conceived and directed by Anne Bogart * Created and performed by the SITI Company

 
In a program note pinpointing the genesis of *Culture of Desire*, her theatrical essay on Andy Warhol and American consumerism, director Anne Bogart wrote, ďI once entered an upstate New York K-Mart and experienced an irresistible desire to buy everything in the store.Ē Iíve had that same feeling, havenít you? Unfortunately, that sentence was just about the most intriguing thing about the show, which played at the New York Theater Workshop through October 18.

Viewing a fluorescent-lit department store as a banal vision of Hades and designating Mr. Art-as-Commodity an ideal figure to thrust in the middle of it, Bogart and her SITI company decided to borrow the structure of Danteís *Inferno*, in which middle-aged Warhol-as-Dante (played by actress Kelly Maurer) is shepherded through the shopping carts and advertising slogans of American consumer hell by Diana Vreeland (played by Jefferson Mays in a black helmet wig). But rather than saying anything noteworthy about the given subject, this collage of campy poses and diary entries of Warhol fretting about his pimply complexion pandered to a dumb-and-dumber mentality.

Bogart has dreamed up conceptual masterworks before. People still talk about her *South Pacific* set in a school for disturbed children who learn normality by singing Rodgers & Hammerstein songs. And her portrait of theater director Robert Wilson, *Bob*, was an ingenious and revealing hommage. With the flat and unfunny *Culture of Desire*, this heavy hitter struck out.

The Advocate, October 27, 1998

  
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