Review: Warhol – Bullet Karma (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) may have suggested “everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” but the pop artist and filmmaker’s fame has endured far beyond his 60s heyday and early death.

Garry Roost’s play focuses on the events around his shooting by Valerie Solanas (this ground was covered from a more feminist perspective in Femme Fatale).

Roost plays every part, framed in the coloured panel style Warhol was known for. His Warhol is chatty, but a bit anxious around Solanas’s SCUM manifesto (“for cutting up men”). His Solanas is bitter and deranged, in what can only be described as a misogynistic take on her.

Directed by Kenneth Hadley, this is tour-de-force one man show which shapes the narrative through the eyes of the Chelsea Hotel set.

There’s a delicious and brief moment with a stoned Paul Morrissey, while a truly bitchy Francis Bacon (subject of another popular solo show by Roost) surely relishes spilling the beans.

Promotional image for Warhol: Bullet Karma

Warhol: Bullet Karma definitely picks up the spirit of the era of free love and personal freedom; in fact at times this film feels as if it echoes one of Warhol’s own cinematic works, but without the ponderous, slow scenes and moments set to shock.

I wanted to hear more about Solanas and her motivation, but Roost’s purpose here is to bring Warhol to the front and give him a voice. His narcissism and confidence comes across clearly in this performance (“look at my paintings and there I am”).

Whether we believe what he says, or whether we are watching just another one of his artistic creations, another persona within the Warhol myth, is for us to decide.

Fringe player: ***.5

You can stream Warhol: Bullet Karma on the Fringe Online platform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 30 August: book your tickets here.