Bakersfield Mist. a new comedy by Stephen Sachs makes its East Coast debut at the New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch on December 1.
The play began its triumphant run in Los Angeles where it has been held over month after month for the past six months and is now coming to Long Branch.
The unlikely heroine of Bakersfield Mist is Maude Gutman, an unemployed, foul-mouthed, Jack Daniels swigging bartender, who lives in a trailer park in the seamy part of town. Events are set off when on a whim she purchases what she considers to be the ugliest painting in a thrift shop for three bucks, but then becomes convinced that it is a Jackson Pollock worth millions. Maude prevails in convincing the foundation that authenticates Pollock’s work to send their straight-laced, no-nonsense, and elegantly attired expert, Lionel Percy, to pass judgment on the work. There is obviously a lot at stake and Lionel has great misgivings since undocumented, and unknown Pollocks rarely surface and the market is flooded with fakes. He knows that there are forgers and charlatans constantly nipping at his heels who are anxious to take him down, and to besmirch and destroy his carefully crafted, hard-earned reputation. Lionel’s no lightweight and his opinion is the final word on such matters for he is an instructor in Abstract Impressionism at Princeton University and the former director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His negative bias is confirmed when the first encounter he has at the trailer-park is with the killer dogs of Maude’s neighbor, who literally nip at his heels, as he sprints desperately for his life. Nor is he reassured when he encounters Maude’s decorating skills that give the term “shabby-chic” new meaning. Maude knows that this is her only chance to turn her pathetic life of defeat and grinding poverty around, and that two simple words from Lionel can achieve this. She reaches desperately into her meager and threadbare bag of tricks to convince him of the painting’s authenticity, as the play becomes a thought-provoking game of cat-and-mouse. Inspired in part by true events, Bakersfield Mist is a provocative and delightful comedy about class distinctions, truth, life, and the meaning of art.
SuzAnne Barabas, NJ Rep’s artistic director, directs the show starring John FitzGibbon and Linda S. Nelson.
For tickets and information call (732) 229-3166 or order online at www.njrep.org.
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