Here is character comedian Adam Riches in an unlikely new role – as pop art pioneer Andy Warhol.
The 2011 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner is to star in the new play A Thousand Miles of History which explores Warhol’s friendship with fellow New York artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring in the Eighties.
Speaking to Fred MacAulay on BBC Radio Scotland, Riches described the role as ‘a bit of a head-turner’ and ‘a complete sidestep from what I’ve been doing. I just fancied doing something where I wasn’t the lead singer on an album, being part of an ensemble.
‘It is nice to be back in a rehearsal room and struggling with a character I’m nothing like whatsoever.’
The play, which opens on March 4 at The Busey Building in Peckham is a co-production between London’s Soho Theatre and Lincoln Centre Theatre in New York. It traces the transition of Basquiat (played by Michael Walters) and Haring (Simon Ginty) from street artists to international art icons under Warhol’s influence.
Writer and director Harold Finley told The Independent: ‘Warhol is the Big Bang. We’re still trying to understand his influence. We were rehearsing a scene set in the Whitney Museum this morning and were rolling with laughter. People will recognise Warhol but they will be stunned by what [Riches is] doing with the part.’
Warhol appreciated comedy, producing the 1977 film, Andy Warhol’s Bad, starring Carroll Baker as a hairdresser who runs a beauty salon in her house and makes extra money by providing hitmen with jobs.
Previous actors to have played the enigmatic artist include David Bowie, Hank Azaria in The Simpsons, Guy Pearce (twice), Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader in Men In Black III and Tom Meeten in Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy.
Riches – whose series The Guns of Adam Riches is currently airing on Radio 4 – also admitted to MacAulay that he lied about his grades and experience to get into studying acting at Salford University.
- by Jay Richardson