Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook
Audiences, like art critics, want to believe, but the New Repertory Theatre production of Bakersfield Mist doesn’t give theatergoers a chance. Instead, the audience must suspend disbelief the moment we spot a central character’s obviously-fake tattoo. For a play intent on debating what is real, Bakersfield Mist provides a poor facsimile of real life.
The play centers on a plausible and chewy scenario: A trailer-park loser, Maude (Paula Langton), has summoned a renowned art critic, Lionel (Ken Cheeseman), to authenticate a Jackson Pollack painting bought at a thrift shop. Some $50 million to $100 million is riding on Lionel’s opinion. The answer, the play suggests, is much messier than checking “yes” or “no”, and both Maude and Lionel must wrestle with their pasts and their notions of art to view the painting. Continue reading