THE PECULIAR TALE OF PABLO PICASSO AND THE MONA LISA
by Steven Green.
Jack Studio Theatre The Brockley Jack 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 1 March 2014.
Runs 1hr 5min No interval.
TICKETS:0844 8700 887.
Review: William Russell 19 February.
Pablo in a pickle.
In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre and among those arrested in connection with the theft was Pablo Picasso, then just starting to make his name as a painter in Paris. He had nothing to do with it, but he had acquired a couple of statuettes that had been stolen some time before by the thief, which caused his name to be linked to the theft and the Paris police were intent on finding somebody, anybody to blame.
It is a nice tale and Steven Green has turned it into a brisk little farce which probably seemed rather better on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe than it does in the depths of South London. It really needs more work done. Charleen Qwaye’s direction is undeniably frenetic and she keeps things moving, a vital element of farce, but the cast never conjure up any believable inhabitants of the Paris of the time.
They seem like a rather nice well-bred bunch of home counties kids in their early teens, from rather good schools doing the end of term play, rather than non-too-respectable continental bohemians being blamed for something they have not done.
As for Green, although he has constructed his play skilfully enough, he needs to look at his language. Some of his lines belong to today, not 1911. It is tricky devising language for something set in the past – there are some glorious television aberrations in Downton Abbey for instance, in spite of the care taken by Julian Fellowes – but it is something that must be tackled by a writer if he wants to render goings-on in another time credible.
The idea is a good one, the play is funny, and there are several good jokes, but there is also rather too much frantic mugging and some dire mime.
Pablo Picasso: Sherwood Alexander.
Guillaume Apollinaire: Euan Forsythe.
Fernande/Ensemble: Lucia Young.
Max/Ensemble: James John Bryant.
Gertrude Stein/Ensemble: Daisy Adams.
Ensemble: Ella Dunlop, Amy Eaton, Kathy McGarry, Margo Brzykowska-Nowak, Cameron Campbell-Moor.
Director: Charleen Qwaye.
Designer/Costume: Zahra Mansouri.
Lighting: Pablo Fernandez Baz.
Sound: Jamie Flockton.