Visiting Cezanne – Hill Street Theatre, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Writer: Duane Kelly

Director: Katie Jackson

A conversation between Cezanne ( Mark Coleman) and fellow artist Degas ( Fergus John McCann) starts the play, humorously portraying something of the relationship between the two men. This quickly moves into the main thread which is a ‘magic’ brush capable of transporting one in time.

McCann also plays one of Cezanne’s sitters, a gardener Germaine, who finds himself in the future, 2016, enticing a young struggling female artist, Nora Baker (Elaine McKergow), not male as the brochure states, to take the ‘brush’ and so the time transition occurs when she finds herself in Cezanne’s studio in 1900.

Titles can be deceptive, while this is about people visiting Cezanne, including a young journalist, Bessie Shaw,( Serena Doran) it is essentially a story of four troubled, sad people all struggling to make sense of their life. The journalist is a good link between the four characters, helping the flow and to link the scenes; “Art is experiencing an earthquake and France is at the centre”, she says, hence her endeavours to interview French artists.

The overall idea for this story is original and interesting, but the many-layered personal life stories could easily take up a full-length play and many ideas seem squashed into the 90 minutes. Opportunities to disclose interesting facts about Cezanne’s 67years are lost, not even his son is mentioned. The chances are there during some of the intimate dialogues, such as when Shaw interviews him.

It leaves one wondering what the main aim of the play is. While the four cast portray their parts well, their moving the scenery and props between scenes breaks the flow and concentration; easier methods could be used, such as a black drape being removed simply, to reveal stepladders, instead of actors crossing the stage to replace items.

It is left to the audience to take from this production what they will. Cezanne says he “…. tries to make the fleeting moment immortal” and “Always a moment of dread when I approach an empty canvas”, these statements could be applied to the characters feelings about life; it may be about the personal lives and situations of the four characters all in search of answers or the inspirational comment Cezanne makes, which you will hear if you go to see it.

Runs until 28 August 2022

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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