Art Or Artifice: Bakersfield Mist At The Duchess Theatre

Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid in Bakersfield Mist.  Photo courtesy of Simon Annand

Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid in Bakersfield Mist. Photo courtesy of Simon Annand

Maude inhabits a backwater Californian trailer park.

Lionel, her customer, inhabits New York’s elite artwork circle.

She (Kathleen Turner) is a tough-consuming onerous-smoker. A frequenter of junk outlets, who has come throughout what she thinks is an undiscovered Jackson Pollock portray, and with it the prospect to rework her life.

But he (Ian McDiarmid) is a connoisseur, and he says that’s no Pollock.

She invested in that portray three dollars, and a variety of hope.

But he solely invests in skilled expertise.  ‘My opinion means one thing’, he puffs. ‘Yours doesn’t.’

You get the image.  Stephen Sachs’ artwork-themed play Bakersfield Mist is an easy odd-couple story. It depicts complementary opposites with an strategy much less suggestive of painterly experimentation than of a formulaic Dulux color chart.

Spiritual Maude (‘I didn’t discover this portray, this portray discovered me’) is quashed by rational Lionel, the tutorial conquistador. And then barely un-quashed, once they uncover they’ve unlikely similarities.

‘Be an individual’, Maude implores the robotic pointyhead Lionel. He reveals he’s human in any case, and simply as religious and superstitious as she, by performing an entertaining little ritual to examine the potential Pollock. How does he comprehend it’s non-real? Pure religion. ‘One should enter the artwork world as one enters the priesthood.’

‘Be an individual,’ Lionel implores the enigmatic Maude. She explains her unhappy state of affairs, and her suicide try, and the way this portray has come to supply redemption to her. How will she show its authenticity? Pure dogma. ‘I know what artwork is. I like footage too, you recognize.’ 

A standoff.  The play then wavers amid two virtually flippant episodes with a gun and a knife, which outcome from the top-on collision of Maude’s desperation and Lionel’s dispassion. Maude presents some fingerprint proof that strongly suggests this actually is a Pollock portray. 

The play is then free to chop to the chase; to query whether or not authenticity and greatness in artwork (so transcendent, and stylish) are literally knowable issues in any respect, or simply arbitrary calls made by connoisseurs whose personal judgement could be questionable. ‘My first impression of you was utterly inaccurate’, Lionel admits to Maude after some deep exchanges.

But then, Lionel admits that his verdicts are instinctive. ‘The portray has no inventive soul’, he says. And by way of every part, he upholds that conviction.  It’s not that he doesn’t recognise his personal arbitrariness — however that as a tutorial fundamentalist, the phrases ‘I select to not consider it’ are ok.

It seems like there’ll be a bit cleverness on the finish: just like the departing Lionel will wipe his specs, rotate the canvas, take one other look and declare it a masterpiece in any case. As a play, Bakersfield Mist may characterize a brand new hanging of previous concepts — however no, it doesn’t have a Columbo second. There is a half-suggestion Maude’s obtained it proper, however actually, we’re again the place we began; the ending to this temporary little play being intentionally fairly flat, and satisfyingly dissatisfying.

Bakersfield Mist runs till 30 August at The Duchess Theatre, Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5LA.  Londoners noticed this present on a complimentary evaluate M:00 pm – Source:

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