xArts Club Theatre Company
Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs

Dates & Venue October 20 – November 20 | Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Reviewer Maria Figueiredo

Masterful acting by Nicola Cavendish and Jonathon Monro sustains this two-character, short play and makes us think about life and the masks people wear depending on class, education and expertise in a field-- in this case, art.

The question is the value of a piece of art that Maude (Cavendish) bought at a garage sale. Her artist friend has told her that it probably was painted by Jackson Pollock, an influential American painter, and the leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement in the art world.

Lionel (Monro) is a world-class art expert who flies over from New York and arrives at Maude's trailer home in Bakersfield in his three-piece suit, only to be attacked by dogs and the foul mouth of Maude who swears easily and with gusto. He has come to authenticate the painting. The stark contrast between this “well-educated, highly professional looking man and the ex-bartender Maude in her “scrappy” home, cooking little wiener rolls is hilarious. Lionel sneers at Maude's 'redneck' surroundings and is quick to give his credentials as impeccable and highly respected. These include an editorship at a Connoisseur magazine and the director's job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Inspired by true events, this comedy-drama asks vital questions about what makes art and what makes people truly authentic. Sachs does not develop the story in depth and it is mainly because of the brilliant performances of Cavendish and Monro together with the talent of the director Roy Surette and his creative team that the play is such a success. 

The set and props of the play are beautifully built so that one connects to the 'trailer park' lifestyle of Maude Gutman. Pam Johnson (set and costume designer) brings the scenes to life as all of the 80 minute play, takes place in this trailer with stuff that Maude has collected from garage sales. The 'stuff' in the kitchen, living room and patio is built with so much detail that one can easily believe one is living in the 60's with lots of cheap pictures and items of those days.

The playing with lights (Conor Moore, lighting designer) and the splattering of paints 'all over' Maude's home is novel and amusing. Scott Zechner, the sound designer distracts with loud, appropriate sounds what could have been boring monologues or dialogue. The stage manager (Rick Rinder) and the video designer ( Michael Sider) all do a professional job of producing an artistic and hilarious play which is a fun, thought-provoking tale that is well worth seeing.

  © 2016 Maria Figueiredo