AVENUE THEATER: 6/10-7/2
L-R: John Ashton and Abby Boes
John Ashton and Abby Boes succeed in giving us convincing portrayals of two delightfully contrasting characters in Stephen Sachs’ oddly amusing two-hander, “Bakersfield Mist.” Ashton portrays Lionel Percy, the representative of a formidable Art concern in New York City, who has come to Maude Gutman’s (Abby Boes’) trailer park home in Bakersfield, California to assess the possible “unknown work” by Jackson Pollock that she bought for three dollars at a thrift store.
Director Peter J. Hughes does an admirable job directing this play that wishes to be the unknown masterpiece it’s not. This study of what is authentic in Art–and what is not – provides us as audience with a fascinating topic of discussion. However, one might wish for more focus in the writing on the issue at hand than upon the tangential issues of loss and greed that follow. (If one lives in squalor and is offered three million dollars for a possibly bogus painting would one hold out for a possible three hundred million dollars?) Reality therapy might dictate otherwise.
The scenic design, which is also by director Hughes is masterful in giving us the illusion of the innards of Maude’s kitschy, chachka-filled trailer park digs... framed in Jackson Pollock-like abstraction. The costumes, also by the director, are spot on, creating the exact right look(s) for these vastly diverse types.
As this stuffy, stodgy and intentionally stiff stuffed shirt of an art connoisseur, Ashton nails this character with his trademark tongue in cheek finesse. Abby Boes provides a delightfully exaggerated contrast with her head bobbing, knee-bouncing, Jack Daniels swilling Maude Gutman.
Steven Tangedal’s lighting design is masterful and one wishes to linger a moment longer on the final image he generates and enhances at final curtain. It’s one of my favorite moments of a lighting design since that miraculous final moment in 1969 when I got to see the Declaration of Independence appear on the scrim as John Trumbull’s famous painting of its signing was seen posed behind it in the Broadway musical,"1776."
Watching John Ashton and Abby Boes spar onstage is where the fun is in this production. For that alone you should run to get a ticket!Marlowe's Musings
417 E. 17th Street
Denver, Co, 80203
For tickets call 303-321-5925 or go online at avenuetheater.com