“Inventing Van Gogh” Playing in Annapolis
Feb 07, 2011 06:48PM ● Published by Anonymous
The strongest performances are given by the actors Stephen Michael Deininger who portrays Vincent van Gogh; Pat Reynolds who portrays Paul Gauguin; and Richard McGraw who portrays Dr. Paul Gachet, a doctor attempting to treat van Gogh for depression. McGraw also portrays another character, Dr, Jonas Miller, who lived in the recent past and like Gachet, Miller is obsessed with artists and more specifically with van Gogh and a missing painting, his last self-portrait.
Samantha McEwen also plays double roles of two characters that exist in the distant past and the present: Hallie Miller, the daughter of Dr. Miller, and Marguerite Gachet, daughter of Dr. Gachet. Her characters grapple with the frustration of being ignored by their fathers while being in love with an artist who is only moved by physical passion intermittently. As Marguerite she is enamored with van Gogh. As Hallie, ignored by her father who is obsessed with the missing painter, she falls in love with Patrick Stone, a budding artist and her father’s devoted pupil.
Less polished are the performances of James Poole as Patrick Stone and Jason Vaughan as Rene Bouchard, an unscrupulous art dealer. Two weeks before the opening, Poole injured his leg forcing him to perform with crutches. He admirably carries on with his stage blocking but I would have hoped that the director, Michelle Harmon, might have more creatively integrated his physical circumstances into his portrayal of his character.
This is a challenging work to perform and it demands top notch acting. There is some fascinating dialogue between the three artists, van Gogh, Gauguin, and Stone. They talk to themselves and each other about how they see the world, what they think of their contemporaries, and what they think is important in their lives.
Written by Steven Dietz and first performed in 2004, this work is in two acts and unlike “Shooting Star” written in 2008 and currently playing at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore which will keep you chuckling, is a serious drama with no comedic elements. It is written by one of the most produced playwrights in America. Dietz won the PEN USA Award in Drama for “Lonely Planet” 1993 and twice has been a two-time finalist for the Steinberg New Play Award given by the American Theatre Critics Association for two of his plays “Last of the Boys” and “Becky’s New Car.”
“Inventing Van Gogh” will be performed through February 26th. I’m hoping that the performance will continue to grow stronger through the coming weeks because this is a play worth seeing. For more information contact the box office at 410-268-7373 or visit their website at colonial players.org.