"Artful is as artful does"
Penny Culliford on 16/03/14



Picasso’s Artful Occupation is a compelling new one act play by playwright Ian Buckley. Based on true events, it is set in a bank vault under Nazi-occupied Paris in 1940. Two young German soldiers Frisch (Roberto Landi) and Hebbel (David O’Connor) are charged with the task of logging and classifying the works of renowned artist, Pablo Picasso (Gary Heron). In the presence Picasso himself, they attempt to complete the mundane task of measuring, describing and valuing the art. 

Throughout the play, the dialogue is taut and tension builds as each man has his own agenda, and his own reason for wanting to get out of the vault. I enjoyed the way that power changed hands throughout the play, with the upper hand belonging to different characters, then switching as a new scheme is hatched or secret revealed.

The character I found most compelling was the art-loving, dutiful Frisch, Roberto Landi’s physicality lending itself to the portrayal of a man torn between his duty, his love of art and awe of Picasso, and who is ill at ease with his sexuality and increasingly bullied by old school pal, Hebbel. David O’Connor, brings some menace to the role, of Hebbel, but I found it hard to see him as a genuine threat. He seemed more like a man keen to knock off early to go fishing. The inscrutable Picasso was played with a twinkle by Gary Heron, who also provided most of the humour. 

The well constructed set and lighting effects worked brilliantly with the venue to provide a claustrophobic, slightly sordid contrast to Picasso’s great art and director Kenn Michaels used sequences of physical movement to provide action in what might otherwise have been a rather static play.


Event Venues & Times

Showing until 29/04/14

Barons Court Theatre | Curtain's Up Pub, 28A Comeragh Road, Barons Court, London, W14 9HR