Pros: There were some moments of incredibly sensitive and engaging drama, particularly at the very end of the play.
Cons: At times it felt like the part was being overplayed, where subtlety would have better suited the story.
An Evening with Lucian Freud at the Leicester Square Theatre tells the fascinating story of PhD student Laura who is about to go into her final examination. She arrives to the exam early and reflects on her meeting with the subject of her PhD, the artist Lucian Freud. The play takes us back and gives an inside glimpse into the life of the artist.
Cressida Bonas plays the part of Laura, and she takes the audience with her when reflecting on her meeting with Freud, from her initial letter to him to drinking champagne at his Notting Hill home. At times it felt that more subtlety would have suited the nature of the play, the character I imagine writing a PhD thesis on Lucian Freud did not match the character portrayed at times. There were moments when the part felt slightly over played and over choreographed, particularly in such an intimate theatre space. Laura could have been staring at the audience to engage us in her story, instead of dancing across the stage. However the end of the play was incredibly tender and delicately acted by Bonas.
The set was quite simple, but with some really clever touches. As Laura talks of first seeing Lucian Freud’s studio she reveals a dolls house scale model of the studio, this was a really lovely idea and the audience were craning their necks to see inside. She then talks of the walls covered in paint as she reveals panels, which with some imagination, you could imagine to be the work of Lucian Freud. There were perhaps too many white sheets on the floor, a trip hazard which nearly caught Bonas out a couple of times, but with such a small space to work with the set was inventive and effective.
It was interesting to hear a personal account of meeting Lucian Freud, and glimpses into why he was so notoriously interview shy. Laura recalls asking him about the connection to his grandfather Sigmund Freud and the influence of this particularly in relation to his piece Painter’s Room, which features a couch and a zebra head peering through the window. His adamant refusal to accept that this is a surrealist work, and with no response to the connection to his grandfather, gives the audience an insight into the mind of this strong willed and seemingly formidably interviewee!
In intervals throughout the play, video cameos from six different actors appear on a white sheet at the back of the stage, these are sitters for Lucian Freud’s paintings, Picasso’s muse and a journalist who interviewed Freud. They describe their experiences with Freud, which are both positive and negative. While a nice idea these seemed to distract slightly from the story that Laura was telling and made the play feel disjointed at times.
This play is a very interesting idea, and a unique chance to hear about someone’s first hand account of an encounter with one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. With more subtlety in the storytelling, this could be a really fascinating play.
Author: Laura-Jane Foley
Director: Ella Marchment
Producer: Wonderful Artful Theatre Company
Box Office: 020 7734 2222
Booking Link: http://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873523585/events
Booking Until: 6 June 2015