Sunday, April 05, 2009
I was fortunate today to attend one of the final performances of the play Modigliani, written by Dennis McIntyre, at The Artistic Home theater. The production, which ends next weekend, was directed by Kathy Scambiatterra, Artistic Director of The Artistic Home. The play is set in the Montparnasse section of Paris in the late Fall of 1916. By then Modigliani had been in Paris for ten years with limited success. He had strained relations with art dealers and agents, but he had become close friends with two fellow painters, Chaim Soutine and Maurice Utrillo Valadon, and he had fallen in love with Beatrice Hastings.
McIntyre's play focuses on these relationships with Modigliani at the center. The play has many comedic moments but ultimately dramatises the overriding and fundamental importance of the artist's personal vision. We see this in the final scene with Modigliani alone in his studio engaged in a self-portrait.
John Mossman was masterful in his portrayal of the many moods of Modigliani; whether leaping and falling athletically in the playful sprees with his friends, or engaging the audience with his introspective monologues which were the highlight of the show for me. Maria Stephens also stood out in the role of Beatrice as she attempted to share his love while encouraging his art (and performing a sometimes role of artistic model). The play was engaging for a full three acts (somewhat uncommon these days) and I was sad to leave these artists at the end of the afternoon. It was a moving depiction of the artist's life.