Bakersfield Mist

Aug 18 2015 | By More

✭✭✩✩✩   Bakersfield missed

Royal Scots Club (Venue 241) Mon 17 – Sat 22 Aug 2015

Despite a great deal of care and two capable actors, Bakersfield Mist at the Royal Scots Club from Arkle Theatre Company never really gets off the ground.

Stephen Sachs’s 2012 play seems to owe a debt to Yasmina Reza’s Art in that it uses a dispute over a painting to reveal truths about characters. In this case, the conflict is between brash Maude, a trailer-park-dwelling divorcee who believes her junk-shop purchase is a Jackson Pollock, and snooty Lionel, the art expert sent to appraise it.

Ian Aldred and Hazel Eadie. Photo: Arkle

Ian Aldred and Hazel Eadie. Photo: Arkle

There is more here than the obvious culture clash – she has real reason to believe it is genuine, while he of course has something to hide – but not much more.

In truth, it is an undistinguished piece, that has little to say and takes an unconscionably long time to say it. The comments about reality and appearance in both art and life are familiar and laboured, while the messages about snobbery being a bad thing and how first impressions cannot always be trusted are obvious, sentimental and trite.

The attraction in the play for non-professional companies is the fact that it is a two-hander that calls for two older actors. Maude and Lionel are an archetypal ‘odd couple’ in background, outlook and expectations, but here they also seem too different in style and presentation, as if they are taking part in different plays and director Kara Johnston cannot bring them together.

 hinting at depths

Ian Aldred’s Lionel is a careful performance, weighing every word, hinting at depths in the character with the smallest inflection and gesture. Hazel Eadie’s Maude is a larger-than-life, dominant portrayal, full of repressed rage and hidden sorrow.

Both are nuanced and intelligent performances, but there is no real connection between them, which means that attention inevitably begins to waver in a piece that is too long by at least half an hour.

Technically an impressive production, with a particularly well put together set, but despite the efforts of all concerned this is a production that never really gels.

Running time 1 hour 15 minutes
Royal Scots Club (Venue 241), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE
Monday 17 – Saturday 22 Aug 2015
Daily at 8.30 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
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