Can art consume more than just the artist? Can creative brilliance be so volatile that it damages all who are in contact with it? Like Zeus’s enigmatic glorious illumination, it destroys those who see. Picasso was an artist who needs no introduction. A painter extraordinaire who defined art of the 20th century and whose name is immortalized. However, he used and abused women, and all those in his orbit. The production of Picasso’s Women adeptly tells their story.
The stage induces an interesting backdrop of present and past, how memories can merge and murder, heal and provoke. It is a reunion of the prominent women that knew and loved Picasso. He has been dead for some time, but still haunts their lives. There is still some bad blood and hurt feelings. Love runs deep. Young (Walter Perez) and old (Russ Andrade) Picasso interact with the women as they tell their stories. And their tales are fascinating.
Director Aramazd liberates what could be a torrid affair into one of intrigue and sympathy. Picasso’s works are continually projected, attaching his themes and periods that correlate with the women. The effect is mesmerizing. As are the performances. Everyone shines. Marianne Bourg as Francoise Gilot and Jacqueline Rogue as Anna Grace McNiven stand out.
Jean Gonzales Lomasto was particularly imaginative with costumes that reflected not only the character’s personality, but the time period. The only comment is of the script, as some of the dialogue is too on the nose. Some deflections and acidity would increase the conflict. There is a great opening and dénouement, which makes this show particularly poignant. Highly recommended.
Picasso’s Women: The Darker Side of Genius runs through Feb. 16 at Theatre Unlimited located at 10943 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. For tickets call (818) 450-4801 or visit itsmyseat.com.