New Jersey Stage
Friday, November 11, 2011
NNPN World Premiere of Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs at NJ Rep
The unlikely heroine of "Bakersfield Mist" is Maude Gutman, an unemployed, foul-mouthed, Jack Daniels swigging bartender, who lives in a trailer park in the seamy part of town. Events are set off when on a whim she purchases what she considers to be the ugliest painting in a thrift shop for three bucks, but then becomes convinced that it is a Jackson Pollock worth millions. Maude prevails in convincing the foundation that authenticates Pollock's work to send their straight-laced, no-nonsense, and elegantly attired expert, Lionel Percy, to pass judgment on the work. There is obviously a lot at stake and Lionel has great misgivings since undocumented, and unknown Pollocks rarely surface and the market is flooded with fakes. He knows that there are forgers and charlatans constantly nipping at his heels who are anxious to take him down, and to besmirch and destroy his carefully crafted, hard-earned reputation. Lionel's no light-weight and his opinion is the final word on such matters for he is an instructor in Abstract Impressionism at Princeton University and the former director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His negative bias is confirmed when the first encounter he has at the trailer-park is with the killer dogs of Maude's neighbor, who literally nip at his heels, as he sprints desperately for his life. Nor is he reassured when he encounters Maude's decorating skills that give the term "shabby-chic" new meaning. Maude knows that this is her only chance to turn her pathetic life of defeat and grinding poverty around, and that two simple words from Lionel can achieve this. She reaches desperately into her meager and threadbare bag-of-tricks to convince him of the painting's authenticity, as the play becomes a thought-provoking game of cat-and-mouse.
Inspired in part by true events, "Bakersfield Mist" is a provocative and delightful comedy about class distinctions, truth, life, and the meaning of art. Hailed by both audiences and critics alike, "Bakersfield Mist" is a "must-see."
"Bakersfield Mist" is directed by NJ Rep's Artistic Director, SuzAnne Barabas and stars John FitzGibbon and Linda S. Nelson.