REVIEW: PICASSO (The Playground Theatre) ★★★★

The world premiere of Picasso, a play by the late Terry D’Alfonso, is being held at The Playground Theatre, a brand new theatre in a former bus depot in Ladbroke Grove, West London. With support from Damon Albarn and Celia Imrie, this space should be one to watch.

Pablo Picasso is as well known for his art as he is for the many women in his life. “When I love a woman everything is torn apart, everything, including the woman, including my paintings, including myself. Over this, I have no control.” This play presents a snapshot of the scores of lovers Picasso had in his life, holding him to account for his treatment of them.

Peter Tate plays Picasso, embracing the role of the passionate artist, he greets the audience with the statement that we should count ourselves lucky that he’s dead or we would risk him falling in love with us too.

Adele Oni is Genivieve Laporte the French philanthropist, film maker and model. Claire Bowman is Marie Therese Walter the artist’s model, long-time mistress and mother of his daughter Maya. Spanish actress Alejandra Costa plays Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s enigmatic wife and his last muse. All three women give strong performances, helping the audience to understand the draw of the passionate artist and the hold he had over the women in his life even after he had cast them aside and even after his death.

Other lovers appear in filmed sections projected on a screen behind the actors. Italian actresses Sandra Collodel and Margot Sikabonyi appear as Dora Maar and Marie Therese Walter. Russian ballet dancer and actress Milena Vukotic is Picasso’s first wife Olga Khokhlova.

Now seems an appropriate time to explore the relationships of a famous and powerful man and Terry D’Alfonso has written an engaging presentation of Picasso through women’s eyes.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Scott Rylander