Friday, 14 October 2011

Whiteley's Incredible Blue, by Barry Dickins, Oct 13, 2011 ***1/2

Whiteley’s Incredible Blue…an hallucination
Written by Barry Dickins
Performed by Neil Pigot
Directed by Julian Meyrick
Designed by Meredith Rogers
At  fortyfivedownstairs – 13 to 23 October, 2011
Reviewed by:
Kate Herbert, Oct 13, 2011

Published in Herald Sun on Oct 17, 2011 and on line at

 Pictured: Neil Pigot. Photo by Jeff Busby. Whiteley's Incredible Blue
Brett Whiteley, one of Australia’s most important painters, was a tortured artist, a self-indulgent, free spirit and heroin addict. In Barry Dickins’s play, Whiteley’s Incredible Blue … an hallucination, we join a shambolic Whiteley in purgatory – or is it limbo?

A charismatic Neil Pigot, poignantly channelling Whiteley’s body and spirit, bears an uncanny resemblance to the artist, right down to his mop of unruly hair.

Dickins’ distinctive, complex, poetic, often moving script, is rendered truly memorable by Pigot’s remarkable, nuanced, chameleon-like performance of Whiteley’s rambling, sometimes barely intelligible rants about his paintings, drugs, women and his favourite artists.

Although we witness the crazed, creative genius of Whiteley, the highlights are his tender moments as a sensitive, lost, pitiful, misunderstood soul, starved for love and disconnected from his wife and daughter.

Julian Meyrick’s deft direction places Pigot on a beautifully lit (Kerry Saxby) and designed stage (Meredith Rogers) with an atmospheric, live, jazz soundscape played by three musicians (Pietro Fine, Robert George, Robert Calvert) that all combine to create a magical trip into Whiteley’s mind.

Stars: ***1/2

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