Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, London – until 23 July 2022
Victor Lotado’s story The Woman Who Amuses Herself is based on true events which took place back in 1911 when Vincenzo Peruggia stole the famous painting Mona Lisa from the Louvre in Paris. Posing as a workman and dressed accordingly the theft in his opinion was effortlessly carried out.
Tice Oakfield’s solo performance breaks through the fourth wall throughout the performance, we are addressed as one of his friends as he explains why he gave the painting a new home and the events which took place following the theft. Lotado is portrayed as a fairly likeable man although quite erratic at times.
Peruggia explains that he spent several years as a painter (in homes). Many of the paints used before 1978 would have been lead-based, which could have explained his behaviour appeared to be based between sanity and insanity, never quite knowing which Lotado you would see next.
Grace Cookery-Gam and David Bromley provide the voices for the two judges at Peruggia’s trial after he had been captured in Italy when he attempted to return the Mona Lisa to her rightful home (in his opinion). This turned out to be the beginning of the popular interest that now surrounds the infamous painting, where many flocked to lay eyes on her to try and understand the mystery surrounding her.
Karl Swinyard’s set design emphasises the mystery and poverty in which Lotado resided. The windows to the right of the stage allow suspension of disbelief that you are sitting in a light-deprived basement bedsit. A perfect setting for the two-year hostage home for the Mona Lisa.
A fascinating and engaging performance by Oakfield, laced with some of the histories around this famous portrait. The eighty-minute performance felt too long at times and the addition of the modern-day school scene was unnecessary and distracted me away from the intriguing life of Lorado which I found fascinating.
For more information on The Woman Who Amuses Herself and future productions coming to the Brockley Jack Theatre please use the links below.