LA Weekly
Pick of the Week

Modigliani
- 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 Ch&#eacute;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.

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