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Bingo Beats

Bingo Beats

In 1978, punk band the Cramps played a gig at a mental institute. Iain Aitch witnesses an extraordinary attempt to re-create it. At most theatres, the interval affords the audience the opportunity to drink a G&T, powder their nose and swap opinions on the first act. Not so at the theatre in London's ICA. At least not today. One member of the audience is throwing up in the corner bingo beats, while another is asleep near his feet and in imminent danger of being engulfed by the rising tide of bile. Thankfully, someone rouses him just in time - by emptying a glass of lager on his face.

The performance they're all here to see is the latest historical re-enactment from artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Re-enactment, traditionally more associated with weekend Roundheads and Crimewatch UK, made a splash as an art form in 2001 with Jeremy Deller's film The Battle of Orgreave. Forsyth and Pollard have been working in the area for some time: their last re-staging bingo beats, 1998's A Rock'n'Roll Suicide, minutely reconstructed the flamboyant final concert of David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona.

Their new work is far less controlled and far more controversial. File under Sacred Music is a re-enactment of a gig by New York punks the Cramps at the Napa Mental Institute, California, in 1978 bingo beats. And the audience drinking, sleeping and puking its way through the interval at the ICA is largely made up of psychiatric patients.

The Cramps' Napa concert has achieved near-mythic status, thanks to a poor-quality bootleg video that still changes hands at record fairs and on eBay. The shakily shot, one-camera film shows patients swinging their arms at the side of the stage, grabbing the microphone from vocalist Lux Interior and even ignoring the whole spectacle in favour of reading a newspaper. Despite the degraded footage, you can tell that the gig had a raw, untamed energy bingo beats, of a sort that the ICA hasn't seen since someone attempted to chew off Shane Mac Gowan's earlobe to the backing of the Clash in 1976.