Hip Shot: Sweet Painted Lady
Mountain – at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church
Thursday, July 19 8:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 21 10:15 p.m.
Friday, July 27 6:00 p.m.
They say: "Jack's in a crisis. He has an absent fiancee, a reliable dealer and a painting of a beautiful lady. When he takes too many blue pills, the line between reality and surrealism blurs. Can Jack find the love he craves?"
Ian's Take: How important is it to us to be seen, to be noticed, to be appreciated? Loneliness isn't necessarily just a function of no one else being there; sometimes someone else can be there and you can still feel invisible. If works of art had feelings, Michael Perrie, Jr.'s Sweet Painted Lady imagines that to be hung on a wall and never really noticed is not too different from being in a relationship where you always come second to your partner's career. The play sits right at the unlikely intersection of human loneliness, art appreciation, and how an addiction-aided subconscious can bring the two together.
Jack (Perrie) is the underappreciated human in this equation. He's a voice actor, currently out of work but waiting on a callback from a big audition. His fiancee, Delia (Mo O'Rourke) is a gallery curator constantly traveling to find artists for her next show. Jack suffers from an unspecified medical condition that causes debilitating headaches—his doctor thinks he should be able to do without pain medication, but he feels otherwise, and gets his fix from a sarcastic dealer (Anna Fagan). The pills do more than drive down the pain, though: Whenever he takes them, the woman (Emily Deveron Vere Nicoll) in the painting that Delia recently gave Jack as a gift comes down from her perch on the wall to seduce him.
As the manifestation of all of Jack's internal dissatisfaction, the painted lady is subject to the same feelings of loneliness and rejection as he is. Perrie does a nice job of interweaving these characters' desires, making her both a character to play against, but also an outgrowth of his own subconscious. When he begins to feel guilty for their trysts, his guilt is just as much tied to taking his drugs without telling Delia. Everything he feels has an analog that manifests itself in the painted lady.
That makes for the opportunity to say some interesting things about the nature of art right alongside the nature of addiction and relationships. Which may seem like reaching for a little too much for a one-hour Fringe show, but Perrie manages to get away with it, largely on the strength of the three performances. Despite all the philosophical questions about art, at its core this is a highly personal and emotional show. And although one point of this love triangle exists entirely in Jack's mind, that never lessens the impact of watching him spiral down a loneliness-induced, pill-aided pit of despair.
See It If: You'd like to relive that one time you were on Demerol for a bad toothache and thought you saw God.
Skip It If: You'd prefer not to relive that one time you were on Demerol for a bad toothache and thought God saw you back—and was not pleased at what he saw.