Philip Carter Family Auditorium, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Christchurch

08/06/2018 - 10/06/2018

Production Details

NO Productions Theatre (Turn of the Screw, The Woman in Black) presents Jeffrey Hatcher’s fast-paced psychological thriller A Picasso. Who will win this cat-and-mouse game between Picasso and his captivating female interrogator?

Directed by Michael Adams, this intense piece about art, sex, politics and truth is full of unexpected twists and surprises.

Set in an interrogation room in Nazi-occupied Paris, this is a cat-and-mouse game between the great artist and an attractive female “cultural attaché” from Berlin. “Which of these three paintings are genuine, Señor?”…

When Miss Fischer (Nataliya Oryshchuk) reveals that the genuine paintings are destined not for an exhibition but a burning of “degenerate art”, the artist (David Allen) begins a desperate negotiation with his Nazi opponent, who turns out to be his secret admirer…

Watch the tailer on YouTube.

“Sex, Art, Nazis, and a classy twentieth-century icon, all wrapped up like a tasty cultural burrito” (The New York Times)

NO Productions Theatre continues to prove that independent theatre can survive in Christchurch through using various venues and choosing the works that suit the company’s unique style. A Picasso is a perfect fit for the Art Gallery’s Philip Carter Auditorium.

According to Nataliya Oryshchuk, the company’s director, “We are very excited to offer this thought-provoking piece of theatre to our audiences. Similar to our previous works, Turn of the Screw in particular, this show will leave the audience thinking about the story long after the performance is over”.

Christchurch Art Gallery: Philip Carter Family Auditorium
Friday, 8 June 2018 / 7.30pm
Saturday 9 June 2018 / 2.30pm & 7pm
Sunday 10 June 2018 / 7.30pm
$27, concessions $22
R16 recommended – adult themes and some coarse language.
Concession price applies to Friends of the Gallery, Student Gold Card and Community Services Card holders.
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Theatre ,

1 hr

A gripping duel

Review by Lindsay Clark 09th Jun 2018

A master of mystery plotting for screen and stage (as in the film Mr Holmes or the adaptation of Turn of the Screw, performed recently by this group), Jeffrey Hatcher shapes an intense account of the great artist head to head with an agent of the Nazi Ministry of Culture during the Occupation of Paris. 

It is rich material for the talented pair playing 59 year-old Pablo Picasso and his interrogator, the steely Miss Fischer. Michael Adams directs them in an absorbing session of cat and mouse skirmishes, where the passion and pride of the artist is counterbalanced relentlessly by the cool craft of the critic. She is charged with verifying some of his works, but her vulnerability is itself exposed as things move on. The critic is critiqued. 

From the outset, there is a strong sense of their face-off as a sort of deadly game. Picasso, played with volatile immediacy by David Allen, has been delivered to what seems to be the storage department of an art museum. His collaboration is solicited in verifying three of his works, in preparation for an ‘exhibition’. The initial questions, (which also serve an expository purpose as they establish his past and current circumstances for us), are put formally and politely, with just a smidgeon of charm from elegant Miss Fischer applied when he is affronted or downright recalcitrant. 

Nataliya Oryshchuk has the role effortlessly under control and as the situation develops, is a formidable match for the firecracker artist, revealing time and again twists in the original circumstances which create new frontiers for both characters. The detail and focus built so convincingly from these two actors ensure that what could have been a talk-heavy experience for us is, instead, a gripping duel, at times almost a dance of logic (hers) confronting self-belief (his).

The twists of this engaging play keep us in the game too. Is the title ‘To Picasso’, as in a homage, or does it refer to the impossible business of splitting one work (‘A Picasso’) off from the unassailable body of artistic expression? Or, as layers of authenticity and critical practice are revealed, does it have to do with the whole business of what we see when we ‘look’? 

The drift of the piece runs as deep as we choose. What is immediately apparent, though, is that director and cast have created, in this space where artistic enterprise is daily celebrated, another reason to applaud those who refresh the business of theatre making for us.


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