Friday, September 2, 2016

Review of Timeline Theatre Company's Bakersfield Mist

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Bakersfield Mist. It was by Stephen Sachs, and it was directed by Kevin Christopher Fox. It was about a woman named Maude (Janet Ulrich Brooks) who lived in the middle of nowhere and she found a painting at a junk shop and thought it was so ugly that she would bring it to her friend as a joke. Then a friend suggests that it could be a Jackson Pollock painting, so she calls in Lionel Percy (Mike Nussbaum), who used to be a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is still an art expert, to tell her that it is real. She doesn't even want to hear that it's fake, even if it is, and that is why things get complicated. It is about the definition of art, acceptance, and what it means to mean something. I really liked this show. I thought it was very fun and interesting. When my mom read me the description, I said "Yep. I want to go to that show," and I was definitely not disappointed!

I thought the set (by Jeffrey D. Kmiec) was really cool and very realistic. It made me even more immersed in the show. It felt like a place someone would actually live. It was the size of a trailer and looked like an actual trailer. One of my favorite parts of the set was a big messy shelf full of books, games, and a goldfish tank. I liked it because it was kind of funny because it looked like a very dangerous place to put a fish and because it just seemed true. I know so many people who have random shelves like that.

The characters had different ways of looking at evidence about the painting. Maude thought that if her friend thought it was a Jackson Pollock it was probably a Jackson Pollock. And also if she felt like it was a Jackson Pollock, it was a Jackson Pollock. Lionel had some of the same methods. He thought if he felt that it wasn't a Jackson Pollock, then it wasn't. They both went with their instincts/blinks. In the play a blink means what you feel about the painting after you blink once. But Lionel doesn't trust the instincts of anyone who didn't go to years and years of art school. But he trusts his own blink more than he does fingerprints. I loved this play so much because it doesn't tell you for sure if the painting is actually fake. She has fingerprints on her side and he has art history and statistics on his side. Maude wants it to be real because it reminds her of her son and she wants there to still be some part of her son in the world that people appreciate. Lionel wants his reputation to stay good, so he wants it to be whatever he thought at first. They agree what they feel is good evidence, but they don't agree on which feeling is right. I wanted it to be real but I don't actually think it was.

The show was talking about a lot of really deep issues, but it was still hilarious at moments. One of my favorite funny moments was when Maude tried to serve pigs-in-a-blanket to Lionel. It was so funny because it is such a basic food to make, and she acted like it was all fancy, but Lionel does not eat them of course and acts snobby about them like they are disgusting, which they may well be. There were fights (by Chris Rickett) in this show too, which I didn't expect, and they were actually quite humorous. I don't want to give too much away about this moment, but cheez balls and stuffed animals are involved.

People who would like this show are people who like abstract expressionist art, blinks, and cheez-ball fights. I think people should definitely go see this show. It was a really fun and deep show. I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Lara Goetsch

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