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A Beast/A Burden

glass half productions · Ages 18+ · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by CHARLES ZIARKO

June 25, 2018 certified reviewer

What I liked

Strong Cast supports the accurate recreations. Billy Ray Brewton has built an inventive and attention-holding story (including multiple POVs at one point) out of Burden’s Performance Art and the public reactions to it.

What I didn't like

A stronger narrative thread to tie the Performance Art recreations together. Going in, I knew nothing about the early career of Burden, only that he had created the LACMA Lights late in his career. What happened AFTER the 1970s is never touched upon or referenced—-and should be! Now that I know some of the early “artistic” choices he made, I think less of him!

My overall impression

I thought HERCULES INSANE couldn’t be topped for this year’s “WOW!” factor (and it can’t) but this is a contender, for a completely different reason: it’s real! You might call it CHRIS BURDEN: THE WOODSTOCK YEARS, covering only the beginning of his eclectic career before he passed from an Anything-for-Attention paradigm to becoming a Mainstream Money Machine in the unpredictable Art Market. “Anything” ranges from death-defying to anti-social to merely nutty, but lookalike Ben Hethcoat makes us believe he’s game for anything (and is, as we discover at the end), and a strong cast of 5 (3F/2M) supports recreations of his Performance Art. IS it “Art”? Well, that’s more in the Eye of the Beholder than the Artist and this Beholder has his own opinion.

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