Monday 2 June 2014


Theatre review: Bakersfield Mist

About: Inspired by true events, this sparkling and colourful new comedy-drama by Stephen Sachs asks vital questions about what makes art and people truly authentic.

Bakersfield Mist marks the return to the London stage of multi award- winner Kathleen Turner for the first time since her tour-de-force performance in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

She is playing opposite Olivier and Tony award-winner Ian McDiarmid (Life of Galileo, Faith Healer) and is directed by Evening Standard award-winner Polly Teale.


Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid shine in two-hander

Photo credit: Simon Annand

Living in a trailer park and recently fired from her bar-tending gig, Maud doesn't seem the most likely person to be in the possession of a priceless Jackson Pollock painting, but that is exactly what she believes she has found at the local junk shop for $3 (haggled down from $5, of course). Art connoisseur and one-time director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lionel, has flown in to authenticate the piece and determine whether it's worth millions or if it's just a very good fake.

Photo credit: Simon Annand

The thrill of seeing an actor live on stage after you've admired them on the big screen for decades never fades. So we were very excited at the prospect of watching Oscar-nominated actress Kathleen Turner take on one of the roles in this two-hander written by Stephen Sachs, and we weren't disappointed. She delivered a strong performance as the boozy, swearing and chain-smoking Maud, which was only just about rivalled by Ian McDiarmid's excellent turn as the rather repressed Lionel.

With one set and just two actors gracing the stage, it's easy to assume that this is a simplistic and perhaps even dull production. However, just like the moral of the story, first impressions often deceive and there are many more layers to both the play and the characters than what the audience is initially led to believe. Not to mention that the stand-off between these two completely opposite characters moves from almost slapstick comedy to a much deeper and emotionally palpable level as the story progresses.

Photo credit: Simon Annand

The play is very short, it clocked in under the estimated running time of 75 minutes on the night we saw it, but it's one which will certainly leave an impression. And rather than outstaying its welcome, as so often is the case with West End productions now commonly nearing the three hour mark, it finished on a high note and left the audience wanting more.

Bakersfield Mist is playing at the Duchess Theatre for a strictly limited run until 30 August 2014.

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