A Utah Theater Review by Michelle Cope
As I sat watching Vincent at Brixton at UVU, I was amazed at what was taking place. One moment, you are laughing in utter hilarity, the next you could not feel more awkward for having laughed a moment ago….
Vincent in Brixton (running through Oct. 6th at the Noorda theater at UVU), brings so much more than comic relief and awkward silence, you will feel the sorrow of a widow’s shattered heart, Vincent’s anger, frustration with his art, people, and the world around him, the dark corners of a loneliness, the giddy pleasures of budding love, and all the while, wonder if this is a love story, a comedy, or tragedy.
You will first notice as you arrive to the Noorda theater, the set could not be more authentic. From the cookware used in the kitchen, to the old sketching portfolio prop, the 1873 English farmhouse is a reality sitting at your feet. 3/4 in the round, it is an intimate theater, with a lovely shadow box backdrop and very supportive lighting.
The writer, Nicholas Wright, anchors the action in domestic routine, and emotions get strong quickly, and as does the humor.
Directed by Christopher Clark, who, (if you are familiar with him, you know-) brings magic to every production he touches.
A strong (perfect) cast makes this play believable from the first words spoken.
Some of us might know a bit about the life of Vincent Van Gogh, and his mental disorder that was much speculated about. (His “madness”…cutting off his ear…etc…) But this is a young, 20-year-old Vincent, who is naive, “quiet”, though he never shuts up, funny, awkward, full of hope and curiosity.
James McKinney plays the innocent, socially inept Vincent in a way that makes you feel that the real life 20-year-old Vincent Van Gogh was probably very much, if not exactly as portrayed in this gem of a play.
Elizabeth Golden plays the widow in whom we are surprised to start caring about deeply, but with her sincere performance, it is not a surprise at all–as she carries us through a million emotional miles in two short hours.
Eric Phillips is perfectly cast as Sam, the very likable ‘chap’ who is having a secret love affair with the widow’s daughter, the down to earth Eugenie, played by Britini Wing. Jessamyn Svensson is the self righteous and cranky sister of Vincent, Anna. (And is it just me, or does Jessamyn look just like Julia Stiles?)
I had never seen this play, in fact, I believe it is the first performance in the area since its premier in London ten years ago. I would see it again in a heartbeat. But I would note that this is not a child-friendly play. There are adult themes and situations. Nothing too inappropriate for a 12-year-old maybe, but does not have much to offer a 12-year-old, either, as it tends to speak to a more mature heart in between the sprinkled silliness and laughs.
The music used throughout is lovely, and haunting at times, perfectly framing this modern drama-comedy that I am now infatuated with. Bravo, Christopher Clark, you’ve done it again.