Theater review: ‘Silver for Gold (The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick)’

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Muses are tough to dramatize. Screens onto which artists project, they don’t always make for compelling protagonists. And Andy’s Warhol’s favorite poor little rich girl is all strung out with nowhere to go in “Silver for Gold (The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick),” David J’s chic but inert multimedia piece now at REDCAT.

Writer-director-composer David J, who co-founded the bands Bauhaus and Love & Rockets, knows a thing or two about life on the other side of the velvet rope. And long before “Twilight,” he nailed the brooding erotics of vampire life in the hypnotic goth-rock classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” His feel for deadpan cool comes through in the show’s stark white set, its silver sofa and porcelain toilet dwarfed by a giant upstage screen cycling images of Dylan, Paul Morrissey, and Edie herself. The show’s animal totem is an eerie white centaur (James Duval) in a wheelchair, alternating between menacing and comforting our addict heiress; he’s the emblem of Edie’s joy (she loved riding) and downfall (horse=heroin).

Unfortunately, these elements never come to vivid life; “Silver for Gold” fails to conjure the confounding energy of the Factory, its founder, or his BFF. What we get is Edie (Darcy Fowers) reminiscing about her hot mess of a life as she sinks deeper into drug use, alternating with songs played by David J and his onstage band (veiled behind mesh fabric and stacked on scaffolding). Many of the songs have an urgent, insistent appeal, but they aren’t used to propel the evening forward. And strobe lighting can only get you so far.

Edie has great material — she tells a crazy story about a riot breaking out at one of Warhol’s openings. You could imagine, say, the Wooster Group’s Kate Valk making a serious meal out of these anecdotal scraps, but Fowers doesn’t have the vocal prowess to own the stage. She absolutely looks the part, sinuously working Peter Nyugen’s smashing costumes, but you never feel the heat from this “girl on fire.” Oddly enough, her most compelling moment is impersonating Warhol, getting the third degree from Edie’s overbearing father. If only Edie’s other moments were as much fun. Andy only expected people to hold our attention for 15 minutes; “Silver for Gold” lasts a long 80.


--Charlotte Stoudt

“Silver for Gold (The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick),” REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Ends Dec. 4. $12-$25. Contact: (213) 237-2800 or Running time: 80 minutes.