Vincent

Keirunga Theatre.

Tuesday, July 23 . Tickets

Reviewed by: Keith Russell

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Vincent, written by the late Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek's Spock), who was considered something of an authority on the subject, was presented as a one-night event at the painstakingly rebuilt Keirunga Theatre.

Vincent van Gogh is one of our most recognisable and beloved painters, however, during his lifetime he sold only one painting and critics labelled his work madness.

Local actor Daniel Betty has taken on the monumental task of presenting the painter's rich legacy through the eyes of his brother Theo.

The play begins as Betty enters the stage suitably dressed for the time and delivers the imaginary monologue in an attempt to somewhat defend the legacy of this master painter.

Betty, who is an eloquent narrator, delivered a masterclass in genuineness of feeling and utter conviction in all aspects of his performance. His portrayal of the two brothers was seamless, expertly using stage presence, controlled mannerisms and subtle alterations of appearance to draw us into the emotional differences of the two brothers.

His voice projection was clear and measured a tribute to both himself and Lisa-Jane Easter his vocal tutor.

As the play unfolds, Vincent becomes more and more unstable, allowing us to identify with Theo's love, no matter what the circumstances, and soak in the brotherly devotion. Betty used the intimate feel of the theatre to draw me out of the audience until I became a guest in his home, a true test of an accomplished performer and regardless of Nomoy's take I wanted to start asking more questions, such as the need for artistic freedom no matter what the circumstances?

Throughout the play a multimedia display of Vincent's paintings and sketches provides an overview of the artist's work along with a visual complement to the unfolding story.

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I particularly liked the self-portraits that gave a chronicle of the artist's losing battle with a world in which he would not accept compromise. Lighting was complementary to the story and suitable props decorated the open stage.

We are fortunate in Hawke's Bay to have a performer of the calibre of Betty along with his technical team that enable this fabulous mix of theatre and art to be enjoyed.

*Performances July 26, CHB Municipal Theatre, Waipawa, 7.30pm and July 27 Century Theatre, Napier, 7.30pm