- David Mermelstein
Modigliani and Mozart shared more than a name that means "beloved of God."
And Dennis McIntyre's impassioned, finely crafted play about the painter goes a
long way toward emphasizing those points of tangency. By portraying Amedeo Modigliani
(Michael Goorjian) as a pitiable figure whose self-destructive nature helped undermine
his career, McIntyre gives us another portrait of an artist as tortured genius. We know
Modigliani mostly as the creator of those striking two-dimensional portraits in which
people look wan and forlorn. In this play, he is a vital figure, somewhat unsure of his
place in the art world, but convinced that he is destined for a life in oils and clay.
The action is set during a two-day period in which Modigliani must wait to meet an important
art dealer, Guillaume Cheacute;ron (director Ron Marasco in a coolly comic performance). During
the long night and day that he must pass, Modigliani drinks incessantly, carouses with the
simple-minded Maurice Utrillo (Ron Garcia), berates his putative agent Leopold Zborowski
(Ethan Lipton) and several times almost makes love with his girlfriend, Beatrice Hastings
(Renne Ridgeley). The real Modigliani died in his mid-30s, and this play certainly gives
us an idea why, but McIntyre somehow makes the boorish, recalcitrant artist lovable. In
this Buffalo Nights production, that task becomes all the more simple thanks to Goorgian's
captivatingly wispy characterization. Marasco's direction, too, is masterful, and his ability
to manipulate simple stage effects, occasionally brilliant. Most impressive of all is
Jonathan T. Hagans' atmospheric lighting design, so artful that it is perfect. Lost Studio,
130 S. La Brea Ave.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 1. (213) 660-8587.
Back to Past Shows
Copyright © 1996, Los Angeles Weekly, Inc. All rights reserved.