Bakersfield Mist at the Duchess Theatre
What makes people and art authentic? It is around this question that this new play by Stephen Sachs is developed.
Based on true events, Bakersfield Mist tells the story of Maude, an unemployed 50-year-old who buys a cheap painting thinking that it is a Jason Pollock masterpiece. She contacts Lionel Percy, an art expert at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who comes to Bakersfield to authenticate the work. This visit brings unexpected conversations that go beyond the painting as a subject, making the audience reflect on peoples’ very authenticity.
Unfortunately, in spite of the expectation regarding the important theme, Bakersfield Mist is a very slow and action-poor play. The total absence of music makes it even less engaging. To its advantage, though, there are funny conversations and jokes throughout that make the audience laugh outright. The story is accompanied by introspective thoughts and flashbacks of their past lives and family relationships. The setting, a living room full of paintings connected to a messy kitchen, conveys a very artistic and creative atmosphere.
The two actors present on the stage are outstanding. Maude’s character, performed by Kathleen Turner, will leave you breathless. Turner, with her spontaneity, and with 30 years of career and a nomination for the Golden Globe behind her, is one of the best actresses of all time. Ian McDiarmid in the role of Lionel Percy is also brilliant: his facial expressions and fights with Turner are completely realistic. There are a couple of scenes in particular, where they are arguing if the painting is a real Pollock or not, that are reveal the depth of these two actors’ talent.
Performed in a small theatre in the West End, Bakersfield Mist will make you think about how sometimes we can be erroneous in the instant judgements we make on paintings, and on people.
Photo: Donald Cooper
Bakersfield Mist is at the Duchess Theatre until 30th August 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.