Review: Bakersfield Mist, Duchess Theatre

“You must be drunk
‘I’d better be’”

Fortunately the sheer quality of Kathleen Turner’s stage presence means that you should be able to make it through Bakersfield Mist with decent levels of sobriety but only just. For Stephen Sachs’ odd couple/culture clash/art history romp is a most trying piece of theatre indeed, maintaining the Duchess Theatre’s dubious record for hosting some of the most random things. On the one hand, we should celebrate the arrival of a new, original drama in the West End, such a thing is horribly rare but on the other, if this was someone’s first experience of theatre, you wouldn’t lay bets on them booking for anything else in the near future.

Turner plays Maude, an ex-bartender who lives in a Californian trailer park where she now collects junk from thrift stores. Most of it is piled up in her abode – meticulously designed by Tom Piper – but the jewel in her crown is a $3 painting which she is convinced is a long-lost Jackson Pollock work, worth millions. So she calls a New York art expert to verify its authenticity and when the snooty Lionel arrives, there’s a clash of personalities as snap judgements are made, about both person and painting, which melds into something more genial as bottles of whiskey are cracked open and barriers brought down in the search for common ground. Continue reading “Review: Bakersfield Mist, Duchess Theatre”