Before this evening I knew little about the play called Vincent in Brixton other than it was about a young Vincent Van Gogh during an influential period in his life when he lived for a time in a boarding-house in London.
It may or may not be historically accurate, ( the program admits no one really knows what transpired between the inhabitants of 87 Hackford Rd, London, SW9) but the play's author, Nicholas C. Wright has said that in writing the script he was influenced by "an intriguing six month gap in Vincent's surviviing letters, and by the well-known tendency of young men writing home to be less than frank about their formative experiences."
It certainly was a performance which drew me in and engaged me completely. The actors were brilliant, especially the two leads (Aidan Maxted as an intense and socially awkward but endearingly eccentric Vincent, and Caroline Alexander as the widowed land-lady, Ursula Loyer).
To my surprise it was not a play about art--in 1874 Vincent had not yet begun to paint--instead it was a play about people : unlikely love, frustrated talents, self doubts and the ability to house in your heart both great joy and black depression at one and the same time..
Do you ever wonder about what the lives of famous people are like when you strip away what they are known for and examine the rest of their life? I recommend seeing Vincent in Brixton for a glimpse of that.
Thank-you to my mom for taking me out for another evening of brilliant theatre! I loved our seats, two rows from the front--close enough to the stage to feel like you're sitting in the same room as the people onstage. And most importantly in a play containing such raw emotion, to be close enough to see the facial expressions on the actors' faces.
By the way, I really do admire Vincent's art ( he signed his paintings as Vincent and I never can pronounce Van Gogh in the proper Dutch fashion). The Musee D'Orsay has some very fine pieces of his that I was privileged to see during my visit to Paris, and I was absolutely thrilled to eat lunch at the little restaurant in Arles that is so famous for its depiction in the painting of the Night Terrace Cafe.
His life story is ultimately a tragic one (ending in poverty and mental illness) and his work rarely sold during his life (even with the support of his brother Theo who was an art dealer). And yet, knowing how important his works are considered nowadays, it should give hope to all those artists out there living under-appreciated in their own times. But why must artists traditionally suffer so much? Why do they usually have to die before their paintings are suddenly worth a million bucks? It's just not fair.
And why does an actor as talented as Mr. Maxted in Vincent in Brixton still have to hold down a day job?