Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Picasso & Me" - February 2008

Mike Maran returns to the Citizens Circle Studio with another one man show, but this one is considerably darker and has more impact than the light, but very enjoyable tales of "Don Camillo". This time the focus is Picasso and the show is really about using the artist's life and relationships to reflect on how those relationships work (or don't work) for us all.

The main conceit of the show is an imagined encounter between a young man who, by accident rather than design, ends up spending a day in the company of Picasso. We also encounter an older version of the young man and get an insight into his relationships with his own father and son. The structure works well, although there are a few moments where it takes a second or two to bring in to focus who/what we are seeing.

The anecdotes about Picasso kept the audience in rapt attention and the details of his relationships are at turns emotional and horrific, and Maran has a wonderful knack of withholding information and then dropping it deadpan into his delivery.

The success of this show is really all about Mike Maran. A talented storyteller first and foremost he practices the art in a manner not dissimilar to how it would have been centuries ago. He has an unnatural ability to describe and interact with imaginary objects with such utter conviction that it's impossible not to be drawn into his world. He also switches effectively between narrator, who involves and engages the audience; and his characterisations who remain firmly behind the fourth wall.

But despite very much enjoying the show it's left me a little torn. A large part of me admires the simplicity and traditional aspects of the storytelling, but another part would love to see some technology thrown at the piece. Effective use of projection or computer displays giving the audience the chance to see the paintings and family members referred to - it would just give that extra dimension to it, especially for those with limited knowledge of the artist's work.
But even as it stands its a very entertaining evening and we'll certainly be keeping an eye out for future shows.

"Picasso & Me" runs at the Citizens until the 23rd February and then continues on its tour.
Image by The Photographic Unit, used with permission.

1 Heckle

Waldorf said...

A very enjoyable evening.

As regular readers may have realised theatre is more than the performances for me. Little aspects of a production can make or break it for me and it's very much a full sensory experience.

I liked the setting, and although seeing what Statler means about using projection for the images it would certainly have resulted in a 'different' show - one that I'm not sure would have been better. I liked the simplicity of the staging, but some of the lighting changes jarred a little for me.

One lovely touch was the programme. I really liked the fact that it folded out to form the poster.