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Bakersfield Mist

First Published 28 May 2014, Last Updated 6 August 2014

What’s it all about?

The clash of a beer swilling, foul mouthed bartender and an odious snob, who fight, debate and challenge each other’s vastly differing cultures. All the while a five foot painting – bought for $3 but potentially worth $100 million – looms over proceedings awaiting its fate.

Whether this pivotal object is really a Jackson Pollock or not becomes possibly the least important aspect of the play in the face of trailer park resident Maude and expert Lionel’s extraordinary meeting that questions the real worth of art.

Who’s in it?

You’d be hard pushed to have missed the many posters around London promoting the excellent Kathleen Turner’s return to the West End. As “Maude the broad”, the famously gravelly-voiced actor gives an exuberant and thoroughly believable performance. Spouting expletives with the greatest of ease, Turner offers the bawdy and brash character a streak of vulnerability that cuts like a knife through the pacey production’s otherwise jeering script.

Playing Maude’s polar opposite, Ian McDiarmid moves from a damning, scathing elitist to an eccentric, frenzied obsessive as the Jack Daniels flows, sexual propositions and emotional bribes are made, and the tension rises.   

What should I look out for?

Tom Piper’s immersive set that brings the Bakersfield Trailer Park setting to life. Packed with chintzy paintings, fridge magnets, beer bottles and mismatched furniture, it’s a hoarder’s paradise.

In a nutshell?

Whether the Jackson Pollock in the corner is a masterpiece or not, Kathleen Turner proves she is no fake in another accomplished West End turn packed with exuberance and style.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@MrRobRees: Fantastic performances from Kathleen Turner & Ian McDiarmid in @BakersfieldMist Press Night. Very very funny!

@kimsheard: Big thanks to @_JHI_ for a wonderful evening last night at Bakersfield Mist. Kathleen Turner was exceptional.

Will I like it?

At a swift 85 minutes, this is a treat that speeds by, propelled by playwright Stephen Sachs’ quick fire wit and Polly Teale’s energetic direction. Those expecting an in-depth debate on the meaning of art would be disappointed, but art lovers will no doubt appreciate Lionel’s expressive monologues that capture the passion a great piece of work can conjure.


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