Bakersfield Mist at The Arts Club Theatre

The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Bakersfield Mist, now playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, reminds the audience just how subjective the art world really is, and who decides what makes a masterpiece.

Award-winning playwright Stephen Sachs based Bakersfield Mist on a true event. Detailed in the documentary “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock” tells the story of retired truck driver Teri Horton’s $5 thrift shop painting that was possibly a Jackson Pollock.  The story follows Teri’s, or Maude Gutman as she’s now named in the play, attempt to have the painting authenticated and the fight against the established art world.

Bakersfield Mist takes place completely in Maude’s Palm Springs trailer, filled with her art ‘finds’. The contrast of the tchotchke laden trailer with the supposed Pollack masterpiece shadows the contrast of foul-mouthed Maude, played by the brilliant Nicola Cavendish, against the uptight, pretentious art expert Lionel Percy, played by Jonathan Monro.  The performances from both players make the character feel authentic as they try to cement their viewpoint.  I’m sure we’ve all had debates like this about subjectivity of art, Bakersfield Mist is the amplification of all of those debates – who decides what makes art.

While the trailer-park perfect set may seem cluttered and the language is colourful, the simplicity of having just the dynamic duo on stage and no intermission grabs the audience and drags them along on the pairs back and forth as they find they have more in common than first meets the eye.

Bakersfield Mist is now playing at The Arts Club Theatre’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, running until November 20th.

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