A WEEKEND WITH PICASSO at CenterRep a great 85 minute solo show

Photo: Herbert Siguenza as Picasso at CenterRep, Walnut Creek.

A WEEKEND WITH PABLO PICASSO: Written and Performed by Herbert Siguenza. Directed by Todd Salovey. Center REPertory Company 1601 Civic Drive in downtown Walnut Creek. 925-943-7469, or www.CenterREP.org. October 21 – November 19, 2011

A WEEKEND WITH PICASSO at CenterRep a great 85 minute solo show

For their third offering of the 2011-2012 season the ambitious Center Repertory Theatre has imported A Weekend With Pablo Picasso that had successful runs in Houston and Los Angeles. They wisely imported the entire show intact with the original production team who have a mounted a stunning, entertaining, visually eye-popping 85 minutes of theatre.

The accolades are being placed up front of this review since this critic’s companion, himself an artist who had the good fortune to have met Picasso and spent time in his Paris studio, was a bit critical regarding some of Picasso’s idiosyncrasies especially with the disparaging remarks of Jackson Pollock. He insisted that Picasso would never be critical of a true artist. However, he agreed that the totality of the evening, although it is a superficial glance at the life of a physically diminutive man (five feet five inches tall) who was a giant in the world of art.

Herbert Siguenza, well known as a co-founder of Culture Class the internationally famous Latino comedy group, has all the qualities to take on a solo performance of Pablo Picasso the most influential artist of the 20th Century. Siguenza who at an early age wanted to emulate the bare-chested older man, dressed only in shorts that he had seen in a black and white photo. After years of research, Siguenza who is an accomplished painter, writer, actor and musician has created a fictional weekend with Picasso that takes place in Picasso’s home and studio, Le California, outside of Cannes, France in 1957.

The audience immediately knows that they are in for an evening of fun when the lights come up on Picasso in a bathtub happily scrubbing away, playing with a rubber ducky and discoursing on his personal philosophy of life including “Everything’s a miracle. It’s a miracle that one does not dissolve in one’s bath water like a lump of sugar.” Once out of the bath, a telephone call reminds him that he has accepted a commission for six paintings that must be finished over the weekend. He bellows into the telephone at his art dealer, “Who do you think I am — Dali?”

He reluctantly informs the audience that he will make an exception and allow us to witness his creations, “But no interruptions!” Siguenzas, a very good artist in his own right, is able to create paintings in the “style of Picasso” and some six paintings come to life before our eye while others have been completed in advance. His production crew use ingenious rear projections and video montages to pull together past milestones in Picasso’s life and in one sequence include a dream sequence.

Siguenza’s unique acting ability is a marvel and the support of scenic designer Giulio Cesare Perrone’s artist’s studio and Todd Salovey’s intricate staging are symbiotic and wondrous. Although throughout the evening there is a laudatory image of Picasso, his egotistical demeanor is also on display. He bemoans, “I don’t wish my celebrity on anyone” and makes no apology for referring to women as either “goddess or doormats.” Without apology, “I have lived my life in broad daylight” and sex was in integral part of his nature.

The entire show and performance fit all the adjectives used in the first paragraph. If there is a valid criticism, the dark side of Picasso’s persona is given a white wash. The evening was so stimulating for this reviewer that it is time to dust off and re-read John Richardson’s two volume biography The Life of Picasso.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com