The Old Masters

Jan. 2—Feb. 9 $20–$50
Washington Stage Guild at Undercroft Theatre
900 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC
(240) 582-0050
The Old Masters is a largely fact-based account of a fight over the attribution of a 500-year-old painting, and for most of its meandering first act, it’s exactly as dry and academic as that unpromising logline would suggest. It picks up in the back half, though, with the arrival of red-raced, stentorian-voiced Conrad Feininger as Joseph Duveen, a terminally ill art dealer on a mission. He’s determined to persuade his longtime frenemy, the art historian Bernard Berenson, to certify the painting as that of the Renaissance master Giorgione, who died young and left behind few works that can be authenticated with certitude. The play eventually coalesces into a study in integrity, or stubbornness, with Berenson refusing to be swayed in his opinion of the painting’s likely authorship. [CK]

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