History: WORLD PREMIÈRE: Playground Theatre, January 26, 2023
EDINBURGH FRINGE 2023 August 3 - 28, 2023
TOURS: Domestic and Worldwide from Spring 2024
TERRY D’ALFONSO’S UNCROMPROMISING PORTRAIT OF
PABLO PICASSO, BRILLIANTLY PORTRAYED BY PETER TATE
DIRECTED BY OLIVIER AWARD WINNER, GUY MASTERSON
Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré by Terry d’Alfonso starring Peter Tate will play at Assembly Festival
during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August...
In this 50th anniversary year of Picasso’s death, this play asks how should he be judged?
There is no disputing that he was a great great artist, however, he left a trail of broken hearts in his wake
and destroyed lives while his career flourished.
How would he be judged today? How quickly would be 'cancelled'?
Picasso: 'Le Monstre Sacré' gets to the heart and soul of the man - warts and all - in his own words.
You, the audience, are the jury... You decide.
“Painting is not an aesthetic process... It’s a form of magic that interposes itself between us and the hostile universe, a means of seizing power by imposing a form on our terrors as well as on our desires.
The day I understood that I found my path.”
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(copy & paste as required)
THEATRE TOURS INTERNATIONAL
presents THE PLAYGROUND THEATRE production of
PICASSO: Le Monstre Sacré
Original Play by Terry D'Alfonso
Performed by Peter Tate
Adapted & Directed by Guy Masterson
TERRY D’ALFONSO’S UNCROMPROMISING PORTRAIT OF PABLO PICASSO.
'Peter Tate was so real, touching and strong, my heart was moved. I was back to Vallauris sixty years ago.
A visceral, uncompromising portrait of Pablo Picasso 50 years after his death…
Undisputed genius, visionary artist, yet Picasso’s obsession often destroyed those he professed to love…. Brilliantly incarnated by Peter Tate, in a challenging, powerful, intelligent study, Picasso passionately defends his reputation. It’s an explosive, deeply passionate voyage of self-revelation, eaving the audience as his jury… Should we condemn or forgive? How do we judge our great artists?
Adapted for solo performance and directed by Olivier Award winner Guy Masterson, Pablo Picasso is brilliantly incarnated by Peter Tate, multi-award winner and Founder/ Artistic Director of The Playground Theatre, London, in an explosive, deeply passionate voyage of self-revelation leaving the audience as his jury.
' (Sylvette David, Muse to Picasso)
'Visceral, enthralling and exciting! A fascinating portrait.’ (ReviewsHub)
'Witty and fun, yet visceral and uncomfortable!' (The UpComing)
‘Any aspiring actor should see the brilliant performance of Tate in action!’ (Theatre Reviews)
‘Masterson captures his bullish essence through Tate’s convincing performance.’ (Theatre&ArtsReviews)
||PETER TATE - Performer
Peter Tate was trained at Webber Douglas in London and with Stella Adler in New York, where he began his career. Credits there included The Bacchae directed by Michael Cacoyannis, on Broadway and Richard III with the American Shakespeare Company.
He returned to London to play a leading role at The National Theatre opposite Alan Bates. An invitation by the Actors Studio New York, brought him back to the US to play the co-lead, as Prince Felix Yussopov, in Rasputin opposite Peter Stormare, who was then Ingmar Bergman’s leading actor.
More recently played the lead in Tabloid Caligula at the Brits Off-Broadway at 59E59th St. Since then Macbeth, in Poland, with one of Polands top directors, Henryk Baranowski, Amrican Justice at The Arts (West End) Babylone (Coventry Belgrade).
At The Playground Theatre: Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré, Picasso, Paradise Circus, and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice directed by Bill Alexander and One Man written by Peter - which has been invited to Parliament.
Tate has won numerous awards for his stage version of Odd Man Out in Jerusalem, St Petersburg and Wroclaw. The film adaptation of Odd Man Out has garnered Peter numerous best actor awards at international film festivals.
GUY MASTERSON - Adaptor & Director (click for additional biographical material)
After obtaining a Joint Honours degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Cardiff University in 1982, Guy studied drama at UCLA's School of Drama and started as an actor in 1985 in Hollywood. He returned to the UK in 1989 to study further at LAMDA. He is an multi-award winning actor, playwright, director, producer, international presente, dramaturge and renowned acting and executive coach.
Following a conventional start in plays, film and television, Guy began solo performing in 1991 with The Boy's Own Story and thence Under Milk Wood in 1994 and Animal Farm in 1995. He first produced/directed in 1993 with Playing Burton participated at the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time in 1994. The following 26 seasons saw his association with many of Edinburgh's most celebrated hits, and his company became EdFringe's most awarded independent theatre producer - garnering 8 Scotsman Fringe Firsts, 3 Herald Angels, 25 Stage Award nominations (including 4 wins) together with numerous lesser awards. Guy also directed two of Edinburgh's biggest grossing dramatic hits: 12 Angry Men - famously starring a cast of well known comedians including Bill Bailey, Dave Johns and Phil Nichol, which then toured Australia and New Zealand - and The Odd Couple (2005) starring Bill Baile and Alan Davies. He also originated One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (2004) starring Christian Slater and Mackenzie Crook which transferred to teh Gielgud Theatre in London's West End and later, The Garrick. His 2009 production of Morecambe transferred to The Duchess Theatre in the West End and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment (plus another nomination for the actor playing Eric).
At Edinburgh 2014 his epic 30 actor adaptation of Animal Farm produced by Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia, won the Stage Award for Best Ensemble. His production of The Marilyn Conspiracy was due to transfer to London in June 2020 but was postponed by Covid19 It will open at the Park Theatre, London in June 2024. Most notably, his 2019 hit, The Shark Is Broken finally opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End in October 2022 and was Olivier Award nominated for Best New Comedy. It since played seven weeks in Toronto, and opened at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway on August, 10 2023.
He first directed Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré at the Playground Theatre in London in January & Edinburgh 2023.He co-directed the award winning The Marvellous Elephant Man - The Musical at the 2023 Adelaide Fringe Festival, Melboburne International Comedy Festival & Sydney Fringe.
As a performer, he won The Stage Best Actor Award in 2001 for Fern Hill & Other Dylan Thomas and was aslo nominated in 1998 for A Soldier's Song, in 2003 for Best Solo Performance for Under Milk Wood, and again for Shylock in 2011. In 2003, he also received Edinburgh's most prestigious accolade, The Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award. His most recent solo work, A Christmas Carol, has sold nearly every ticket over 5 festive seasons since it opened in 2017.
His theatrical commitments have largely kept him out of mainstream film and television, however, he made the obligatory appearance on Casualty (Christmas Special 2004) and has been the Franziskaner Monk - the face of the premium German weissbier - since 2007! He also writes plays, screenplays and poetry, is an executive performanc and confidence coach. His passion is to bring great new ideas to life and fresh talent to the stage.
He is married to Brigitta and father to Indigo and Tallulah...
||TERRY D'ALFONSO - Original Playwright - The Loves Of Picasso
Terry D'Alfonso was American of French and Italian descent. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Theatre from Hunter College of the City University of New York and completed graduate courses in Film and Television at New York University. She was Assistant Director to Giorgio Strehler at the Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro díEuropa. She remained professionally linked to Strehler for many years and his Teatro Umano (Humane theatre) strongly influenced her work thereafter.
In London she attended a seminar on Film and TV Drama at the BBC where she worked as Assistant Director to Steven Frears (Abel's Will) and Kenneth Ives (The Secret Army) and directed A Dangerous Game based on Friedrich D¸rrenmattís novella Die Panne.
She received several major awards, including the Pirandello International Award for her innovating production of La Favola del Figlio Cambiato (The Changeling) with the internationally famous actress, Milena Vukotic. Terry subsequently adapted and directed Pirandello's As You Desire Me and co-authored with Enzo Lauretta, TrovarsiÖOltre, based on the magical and surreal works of Luigi Pirandello. This production was presented by the Piccolo Teatro di Milano Teatro díEuropa in 1995 at the New York Festival, Genius and Creativity in Italy in the 18th Century.
TELEVISION FILMS: She conceived and directed the first series ever to be broadcast in Italy of 20 films based on true-to-life stories about tough divorce cases, entitled Lasciamoci cosÏ for Italian national broadcaster, Rai 2. This program gave many women the courage to speak out and break away from tragic situations.
Terry díAlfonso also wrote and directed several TV docu-dramas for RTSI (national Swiss-Italian radio and TV broadcaster) among which In Bed With Patch Adams (with Patch Adams playing himself), Cinderella 2001 (presented at the Creteil Film Festival, France) and Tropic of the Senses (a musical on Anais Nin), for which she also wrote the song lyrics. The radio version received special mention at the Prix Italia 1997,Theatrical Renditions and biopics of Extraordinay Women. In September 2001, at the Benevento Festival (Italy) and, in July 2002, at the Guggenheim Museum in Venice, she adapted and directed Picasso's Women with Milena Vukotic. For her performance in this work, Ms. Vukotic won the prestigious Eleonora Duse Award. In 2005, Terry directed Anais, a new version of the musical on Anais Nin, starring Susannah York and presented at the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, In 2006 at Sala Azzurra, Milan, she conceived and directed a recital for the diva, Valentina Cortese. In 2007 and 2008, at the Ghione Theatre in Rome, Terry co-authored and directed Pope Joan with Sandra Collodel, Gigi Proietti and Giorgio Albertazzi. In 2009, also at the Ghione Theatre, she adapted and directed 8 Women by Robert Thomas, starring Sandra Milo and Shelagh Gallivan. In 2010, at the Friends of the Certosa di Capri International Arts Festival, Terry adapted and directed the world premiere of An Interview with the Marchesa, by Paolo Puppa, based on the life of the legendary Italian patroness of the arts, Marchesa Luisa Casati, with Milena Vukotic and Marco Gambino. In 2011, she directed a new, multi-media version of Picasso's Women starring Milena Vukotic and Margot Sikabonyi, which again opened the Friends of the Certosa di Capri International Arts Festival and was subsequently produced in Rome at the Ghione Theatre and in Ostia at the Manfredi Theatre. In September, 2013, for The International Voice in Shakespeare, she presented her adaptation of The Tempest, entitled, Were I Human, at the Rose Theatre in London.
In October 2016, Tony Award winning producer Pat Addiss and Georganne Heller presented the first US staged reading of Terry's The Loves Of Picasso at MoMA in New York starring Peter Tate.
Just before her untimely death in 2016, Terry had just finished writing Suicide Lives. Dying to Win... a three character immersive theatre thriller and was currently working on The Pilot and the Princess, a short film about Marguerite Chapin, based on the journals of her nephew, Schuyler Chapin.
PLAYGROUND THEATRE - Producer
The Playground Theatre is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea W10 where the local community is culturally rich and diverse. Playground's productions reflect this diversity. Formely a bus depot, it is one of London's newest off-west end venues, and was set up as a creative space for innovative theatre artists of all disciplines to come and 'play' with their imaginative ideas. As a registered charity with support from the Arts Council, The Welcome Trust, Esmee Fairbarn and others, numerous projects, initiated here, went on to venues such as The Young Vic, The Hampstead Theatre, The West Yorkshire Playhouse and many others. One such project, Terrific Electric won the Samuel Beckett Award for Innovative Theatre and was part of the Bite season at the Barbican Theatre.
In 2017, Playgound first opened to audiences, a decision was borne from the desire to bring the exceptional artists' work, from those who had 'played' with them, to full production. Many international artists were invited to experiment there including Poland's Henryk Baranowski, winner of Poland and Russia’s top award as best director, Salius Varnus from Lithuania, and Hideki Noda, currently head of Japan's National Theatre. From the UK, we worked closely with Marcello Magni, co founder of Theatre De Complicite, along with his colleague Linda Kerr Scott. Their programme includes international plays, classical concerts, opera, ballet, dance, and film.
"The Loves of Picasso" as originally written by Terry D'Alfonso, is an examination of how Pablo Picasso
interacted with the important women who entered and departed his life. Much as been written, including several other plays, and much has been made of his ill treatment of the few women who got close to him, but few have addressed the key issue of Picasso's own feelings about himself, his art and his attitudes and needs concerning those women. Perhaps by better understanding them, we can contexulalise his behaviour?
Converting Terry's play from 8 characters to 1 is a dramaturgical challenge... It requires the actor not only to talk about his women, but also inhabit them, empathise with them, comprehend them. From his playing them, perhaps he is more clearly able to explain his behaviour?
He was labelled Le Monstre Sacre - The Sacred Monster... perhaps in recogition that "bad" behaviour in artistes can ften be forgiven provided that the art is worthy of forgiveness. The modern era is perhaps less forgiving than the past so the Picasso's challenge is to take his chance to put his case forward. We - the audience- become his judges.
DIRECTOR’S NOTE: One of my first thoughts when meeting Peter between Covid Lockdowns in 2021 was how much he resembled Pablo Picasso! When I finally brought this up in conversation, he said, "Funny you should say that, I played him several years ago in New York in a play by Terry D'Alfonso!" He then mentioned that Terry was so impressed with his performance, that she gave him the rights to perform her work in perpetuity. He went on to adapt the play for film and also re-produce the play at his theatre - The Playground W10 - in 2017. Sadly, Terry passed on in 2016.
He also mentioned that he would like to have a solo play in his repertoire which he could play for the next decade on a popular subject that would attract an audience wherever he played in the world. I suggested he could hardly go wrong with a solo play about Picasso and I asked to read Terry's origianal work with a view to adapting it for solo performance.
Solo performance is an interesting genre... it demands that the audience accept, not only that you are who or what you puport to be, but also that you are all the other characters that appear in the story as well! For Peter, having played Picasso with various other actors playing Picasso's various muses and wives in Terry's original play, would now have to play them himself!
For the uninitiated, this is not an obviously easy thing to achieve. It's not just a case of Peter suddently transforming into a woman... but it IS a case of his "empathising" with each character as they appear as if giving Picasso's impersonation of them... so as to give a flash of the character to the audience... In this way a "conversatio"n can take place between two people and thus a play can happen, rather than a simple storytelling...
Peter is a skilled and talented performer. (The two qualities do not always go hand in hand!) but Multi-Character storyteliing is not a skill they teach at Drama School. It requires total surrender to the moment of impulse to replay memories as if they are your own, but as the Character you puport to be... There is no playacting allowed!
Peter took to these techniques like a duck to water, enabling him to portray the multitude of women
who cam in and out of Picasso's life as if they were his own memories... In this way, we can observe they way Picasso feels about them, not just listen to what he's telling us he's feeling. There's more information portrayed in the non-verbal than the verbal!
Peter has to not only tell and show us what he is doing to his women, but also how he feels about it. Does he have any compunction? Can we possibly forgive him the more abhorrent of his actions given that his art was - and is - regarded as sacred?
FROM THE EDINBURGH FRINGE, AUGUST 2023
EDINBURGH GUIDE (Vivien Devlin) 23/08/23
‘It is said that I am a monster. I seduce woman and then paint them. Art must not be explained. – it’s about emotion.’
The setting is Picasso’s studio with step ladder, paint splattered sheets across the floor and one of his symbolic bull paintings as a backdrop. The premise for this solo play is a question from Genevieve, an eager young journalist, ‘What do women mean to you?’. ‘Well, how long do you have,’ is his response, before he relates the story of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the source of such enriching, artistic creativity throughout his long life.
His first wife, Olga is quickly persuaded to leave Ballet Russes as he’s jealous whenever she performs on stage with an attractive male dancer. He then becomes captivated by 17 year old Marie-Thérèse with whom he has a daughter, another work of art. Dora Maar, a photographer, painter and poet becomes his muse, soon believing ‘only I know who he is,’ while Picasso keeps his distance, ‘If a woman gets too close to me, I’ll destroy her.’ His obsessive womanising is extraordinary but coloured by light-hearted humour such as when he spies Jacqueline working in a pottery shop and easily entices her to visit his studio.
With an uncanny resemblance to Picasso, Peter Tate portrays a brusque and, at times, brutal sense of macho dominance. Rather shocking,
simulated scenes of love making are an act of passion and power: his sexuality clearly fuelled the art, depicting his models and muses in dark, distorted portraiture and iconic allegory, especially Dora: ‘For me she is the weeping woman. For years I've painted her in tortured forms and it's important, because women are suffering machines’.
In the manner in which he first bewitches and seduces his various lovers and then crushes them onto his canvas, a brief affair often ending in cruel betrayal, he's clearly seen as an egotistical misogynist, but equally they were all attracted by his charismatic masculinity. Picasso views himself in mystical terms - a magician, shaman and legendary minotaur as an embodiment of his personality, but was he really a monster?
Spanish symbolism is dramatised through subtle imagery, his shirt echoing the waving red rag of a matador - for him the bull is about sacrifice, the blood of battle and death - and occasionally swaying his hips to the flamenco beat in dreamlike mood. ‘Cubism and I are both about deception.’
Portrayed by Peter Tate with such emotional intensity, he reveals what a vulnerable soul Picasso was behind his deceptive mask of privacy. Reflecting on all these broken relationships, we perhaps glimpse a glimmer of remorse through this intimate close up of a fractured, weeping man in his own Cubist mode.
With the use of imaginative, flash-back film sequences, poetry and music, Guy Masterson choreographs the rhythmic pace of the dramatic narrative like a lyrical dance. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Picasso's death, this visionary, intelligent portrait is an artistic and theatrical masterpiece.
BRTSH THEATRE Guide (Anna Ambelez) 12/08/23
Many hail Picasso (played by Peter Tate) as a genius; he never stopped re-inventing his style, invented collage, pioneered Cubism, created 1000s of paintings, sculptures, watercolours, engravings, sculptures and ceramics; his affairs are legendary.
His admirer Richardson wrote in one of his biographers of Picasso that he "could be ferocious but was also gentle, sweet and childlike… he was a paradox… An enigma.” He had a very full 92 years; what a subject for a play, and Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré does it with great panache and success.
Paint-bespattered sheet and a cushion on the floor, ladders and a semicircle of muslin as a backdrop with Tate filling the space in an exceptional reincarnation of Picasso. Extensive experience and numerous awards do not always guarantee a good actor, but never fear; Tate more than deserves any accolade he receives. Combining a whole range of emotions, wit, pathos, sensuality, humour, and what a mover!
One hears how a relationship with one’s mother can influence the rest of your life, as he takes you through the five most important relationships in his life from wife Olga Khokhlova to Francoise Gilot and his constant lover, painter Dora Maar; he allegedly said, "for me there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats”.
This production commemorates the 50th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death. An uncompromising portrait of Pablo Picasso by Terry D'Alfonso. Tate and Olivier winner, director Guy Masterson, co-adapted Terry d’Afonso’s Picasso script into a solo show. Such a production restores one’s faith in theatre and I agree with the many comments I heard exiting the show: "marvellous, brilliant, enthralling".No Edinburgh Fringe Festival is complete without seeing at least one Masterson production. For quality entertainment and experience, Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré is a great example of this, 70 minutes that fly by, a must-see.
UK THEATRE REVIEWS (Clare Brotherwood) 05/08/23
Fifty years after his death, Pablo Picasso is back, warning us, 'You are lucky that I am already dead'!
I'd say Amen to that, for the portrait writer Terry D'Alfonso paints (sorry bout the pun) and the pictures conjured up on stage, both literally and metaphorically, are as distorted as Picasso's painting of Dora Maar, just one of several women he cast aside in his turbulent love life.
Picasso was promiscuous, but above all passionate, and in this tour de force award-winning actor Peter Tate gives a powerful performance as the Spanish artist.
In his closing lines Tate, as Picasso, says, 'I hypnotised the world'. Well, Tate certainly hypnotises his audiences, often making direct eye contact with a look that burns into your soul and is both seductive and shocking... just like the artist. But he is also subservient, coy and angry as he becomes his women, giving us a well-rounded view of a life audiences are left to judge.
This is one of two plays at this year's Fringe directed by award-winning Guy Masterson, who is currently on Broadway opening his Olivier nominated The Shark is Broken, which started life here at the Fringe. Need I say more!
ONE-4-REVIEW (Rona Ounsley) 13/08/23
Another Guy Masterson production comes to Edinburgh and certainly does not disappoint. Peter Tate is mesmerising as Picasso in this one man tour de force. From the outset, we are in no doubt as to the character of the man, as he lets the women in the audience know they are lucky he is dead. He has no doubt they would all fall under his spell. What follows is a never less than jaw dropping account of the women that Picasso, loved, sucked dry and used the essence of them on his canvasses. The stage is set up as an artist’s studio, with the narrative enhanced by short films projected onto the canvas backdrop of Tate as Picasso, meeting the various women in his life.
As he manoeuvres through his life, he dances across the stage delicately between romantic interludes, which is at odds with the bull-like masculinity he displays when he treats his lovers with brutal disregard. It’s not only the women in his life that he treats with cruelty, as he shows little or no compassion for his various children and grandchildren.
It’s hard to believe in this day and age that someone like Picasso could have ever existed, but Peter Tate’s performance really brings the man to life. His devotion to his art knew no bounds and this play more than illustrates this. A fabulous performance and a fabulous play.
THE QUINTESSENTIAL REVIEW (WJ Quin) 10/08/23
It’s true to say that Pablo Picasso looms large over the history of 20th century art. When available, his art sells for eye-watering sums, whilst the rest adorns the walls of the world’s most elite galleries (and private mansions). Hannah Gadsby's controversial oversight of the Picasso exhibition at the Brooklyn museum left no one in doubt of their, and much of the public’s opinion. Picasso was the ultimate narcissist, and an abusive, perverted misogynist who obliterated the lives of the women unfortunate enough to catch his eye. Which brings us to ‘Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré’, a new play from Terry D’Alfonso, and premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
The showblurb suggests this one-man theatrical undertaking is an opportunity for the audience to make their own evaluation of Picasso the man. I’ll come back to that. Peter Tate makes an intense Picasso, his performance utterly committed and unflinching. This is a priapic obsessive lurching from one ultimate love to the next, a creature utterly committed to their art, and president of their own cult of personality. His obsession with the minotaur is theatrical and melodramatic, ‘One cannot love the minotaur, and live’ he declares, a self-absolution if there ever was one.
After all, if no one can love you, then what do you owe them in return?
Guy Masterson knows how to stage an evocative show, unsurprisingly, and the pared down set consisting of a white sheet hung in an encapsulating semi-circle, a ragged pillow, and a step-ladder certainly focusses attention. It provides a canvas for projected films conjuring Picasso’s various amours as his mind turns from one to the next.
That pillow comes in for a lot of action, the scene of the artists relentless conquests. Indeed this is a play in orbit around sex, and Tate puts his hips to work. Fortunately, said hips spend more time engaged in dance, drawing on Tate’s previous experience, and one suspects a few flamenco lessons. It’s a visceral, stamping celebration of the self, and a motif returned to again, and again. One suspects the pillow-based romps could feel a little excessive to some, but if aside from his talent one thing is true of Pablo, it’s that he struggled to keep it in his pants.
So far as I can see, there’s little however placed in front of the audience in Picasso’s defence, other than an initial bout of sibling envy, when a younger sister is born. He is, D’Alfonso maybe suggesting, a creature perpetually in search for the perfect, all-consuming love he ‘lost’ when his mother committed the sin of another birth. After this, however, Picasso not only confesses to being a destroyer of women, he explains in great detail precisely how he goes about it.
It’s a relief when his penultimate lover, Françoise Gilot, a celebrated artist in her own right, tells him precisely where he can stick his chauvinistic bullsh*t.
Thus the play arrives precisely where Gadsby did, with Picasso, the artistic minotaur, and despicable excuse for a human being. His final terminus in the play brings to mind Betty Davis’s reaction to her long-time nemesis’s death, “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good. Joan Crawford is dead… good!” Now substitute Picasso.
Any play that can raise such visceral dislike in an audience is doing something right, but if there is supposed to be a case for his (partial) absolution, it is somewhat lacking. Tate, however, is magnificent, his voice a thing of beauty, spouting forth the self-justifications of a narcissist. Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré is certainly a success, but if anyone comes to any other conclusion, I rather hope never to meet them.
NORTH WEST END (Greg Holstead) 12/08/23
Guy Masterson’s name attached to any Fringe production usually guarantees quality and this piece is no exception.
Brilliantly acted by Peter Tate, who is electrifyingly terrifying as the human Minotaur Pablo Picasso. One cannot love the Minotaur, and live, Tate portrays the Infamous womaniser as the ultimate home fatale, as he crawls from needy journalist to idolising art student, all looking for a part of him that he is more than willing to give, for a price.
Tate starts the show astride a paint-splashed ladder, at the top of his game, later in his life, looking out intently at a single spotlight, the sun. Behind and around him a muslin cloth hangs limply to the floor from a high semi-circlular rail, his canvas, but also the thin veil that surrounds his boudoir, the spiders lair, to which many a young lady succumbs. The only other item is a single pillow, Picasso’s casting couch.
Tate dismounts his ladder, into his sanctuary, and stares with piercing eyes at the lady members of the front row, you women are lucky I’m already dead. We believe it.
It helps that Tate, with grey hair and balding head bears a striking resemblance to the elder Picasso, the charismatic out-of-control narcissist, celebrity of his day, who was never called to account until after his death. A story which strikes a chord.
As a way of trying to get a divorce from his first wife, he Instructs his latest lover to present her newborn child to his wife and tell her that, ‘this too is a work by Picasso’, probably sums up just how much of a B he was.
This is a physical piece, which has Tate shining by the end, as his hips get a good work out both in his den or tangoing around the space. Investing life into a corpse is hard work!
By the end of Tate’s monologue, I must admit to feeling a little short-changed, in this potted history of Picasso’s love life, I’m not even sure if Picasso loved or hated women? At one point likening his female conquests to dogs, ‘doesn’t one poodle resemble another’. It is also a shame that more was not discussed about his art and his method, but I guess copyright protected the actual showing of his work.
This is Picasso, the man, flawed but brilliant, probably just about sums it up.
CULTURE FIX 12/08/23
The complex legacy of Pablo Picasso is brought to life in Picasso: Le Monstre Sacre, written by the late Terry D’Alfonso, adapted and directed by Guy Masterson. Peter Tate takes the titular role for this compelling one man show, presenting a textured portrait of the artist and his destructive impact on the many women in his life.
Tate takes to the stage in the Assembly Festival’s Roxy venue with the one man show capturing an unflinching portrait of Picasso, with particular regard to his romantic relationships. Exploring his first love with Olga Khokhlova and their heated relationship, Picasso: Le Monstre Sacré delves into the artist’s fiery and ever-changing romances exploring notable figures including Marie-Thérèse Walter, Françoise Gilot , and the artist’s final lover Jacqueline Roque.
The stage is adorned in a white artist’s sheet handing from the ceiling (which doubles as a multimedia screen), a paint splattered sheet on the floor, singular cushion, and a set of wooden ladders. The minimalist staging allows for Tate’s performance to take centre stage with the actor embodying the ‘holy monster’ with a dynamic intensity. The actor’s performance captures the magnitude of Picasso’s ego and devotion to his art above all else (including the women and children in his life), as well as the way in which his obsession with his craft often destroyed the relationships with those around him. References to The Minotaur, a character known for its power, sexual energy and monstrousness, feel appropriate and Masterson’s production utilises this imagery throughout with powerful effect.
Picasso was the master in all his relationships, yet these were second to his art. Exploring his misogynistic tendencies and haste in recklessly abandoning one lover for another, paints a textured portrait of the challenging artist. Displaying a lustful fascination with the women around him, Tate also taps into Picasso’s charm and romanticism – whilst whimsical and romantic to one object of his affection (Jacqueline receives roses and poems daily), whilst cold and cruel to the others. The flippant and erratic nature of Picasso’s romantic appetite and quick ability to tire with those women is captured impressively by Tate, who deploys impressive skills of characterisation and range to embody the women Picasso collected.
The staging tools of the white sheet allows for the scope and aesthetic of the play to be supported by impressive use of video clips. These capture flickers of Picasso’s romances and relationships, whilst crafting a rich historical context with their impressive period details. The central ladder provides some inventive moments with Picasso fondly standing atop looking at the footage and embracing these memories. A soundtrack of Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps plays at multiple moments, with the narcissistic artist diving into the tango to celebrate one of many newfound loves or conquests, whilst a pillow becomes a prop in the slightly overbearing tendency to showcase Picasso’s narcistic lovemaking techniques.
Peter Tate’s compelling performance captures the complex egoistic persona of Picasso and his reckless treatment of the women in his life. Guy Masteron’s impressive direction bringing the context of the story to life, whilst ensuring this is an absorbing, sharply textured seventy minute piece.
AUDIENCE REVIEWS EDFRINGE 2023
Glenys Mclaren 07/08/23
Peter Tate certainly looks the part, and holds the audience spellbound in this one man show. Wives, muses and lovers, Picasso needed them all but invariably treated them badly even by the standards of his day. Excellent script, superbly performed. A Guy Masterson production and therefore of his usually high standard. Highly recommended.
Magdalena Kozicka 07/08/23
Outstanding acting!!! Great talent of Picasso overshadowed by his lust. Monster or God?
Make your own judgment! Go and see the show. You won’t regret.
Susan Owen 06/08/23
Superbly written, acted and directed. The audience were held spellbound during this expose of the inner Picasso as he satisfies his entirely selfish wants and lusts in the name of making great art. As a long time admirer of Picasso the artist and believer in separating the product from the creator, I was confronted with the dilemma of collaborating in the destruction of others.
Go see it!
FROM THE PREMIÈRE on JANUARY 26 2023:
Written in 2017, it nevertheless feels like this is a keenly appropriate time for a production of Picasso. The rumbling discourse over whether we could, or should, divorce art from artist grew louder as 2022 closed, though it remains, of course, unresolved.
Peter Tate’s hour-long work perhaps seeks to chart a middle ground, giving insight into how Pablo Picasso’s immense ego and rotten approach to women were a driving force in his creative process and resulted directly in a large portion of his work.
Tate himself is the show’s sole live performer, though he appears with others in filmed scenes projected throughout. He is the eponymous Picasso, posthumously intent on telling us all about his attitude to, and relationships with, women. We’re taken through his actions and his beliefs as they relate to his wife Olga, then a series of lovers and mistresses, mothers of his children, and muses.
It’s a fascinating portrait. Tate’s performance and script are deeply engaging, enthralling, and exciting. Picasso himself is shown as deeply dysfunctional when it comes to women – seeming to take pride in his destructive influence and has misogynistic ideas most recently seen in Andrew Tate’s dreadful oeuvre. His ego is a thing of wonder, the engine behind his art and his seductions. We hear “I have magic powers I do not understand,” “I am God,” and “I do capture the sun’s secret.” He truly believes his stylish drawings entitle him to, well, everything.
Tate inhabits this forceful belief wonderfully. Pacing around the small set and alternating rants with egotistical pronouncements and calm descriptions of what we’d now see as abusive behaviour. It’s riveting, awful.
Director Guy Masterson and Tate take care to build their story, rather than chase excitement prematurely. The restraint in the scripting is nurtured well by the pacing and direction, ensuring that by the time we get to the deeper revelations and surprises we have a rock-sure foundation of understanding of this character thanks to an information-laden first section.
Eirina Kariori’s simple set consists of a paint spattered groundsheet with a cushion, a ladder, and white gauze curtains. This encircles Picasso, forming a rippled and ethereal backdrop on which his emotions are mapped, and memories of the women he seduced and toyed with are projected via Steven Dean Moore’s video and lighting.
There’s no doubt Picasso can be credited with immense talent, for art and for promotion. This piece of theatre makes great strides in showing off two key sources of energy for that talent, making the case that they’re indivisible from the output. Whether an observer sees this as a positive or negative thing is not really the play’s business. It gives inspiring raw material for further personal reflection on this weighty question. (Karl ODoherty 27/01/22)
Playground Theatre’s Picasso should be paired with a sparkling alcoholic drink to lament the narcissism of a man whose art was built around the women he saw as beneath him (figuratively and literally), from the taking of his mother’s surname to quotes like “My art needs a new woman” to justify every new affair that came his way. It’s witty and fun, yet visceral and uncomfortable. A circular stage illuminated by warm orange and yellow lights draws the audience’s attention, a fitting metaphor for Pablo Picasso’s constant allusion to the sun and how it relates to his revolving door of relationships through the years. “Stop looking at the sun, you could go blind,” he says – a phrase he appropriates from his mother, who is portrayed as the foundation for the artist’s long and misogynistic history with women.
Picasso touches on delicate topics surrounding the divide between creator and creation, while exploring its subject’s predatory nature (evidenced in his paternal attitude to romance with ex-lovers and his constant victim blaming). Peter Tate traps himself in the mind of Picasso, giving a wonderfully accurate depiction of a man tortured by his own dependency on the opposite sex. The actor is an expert at deflection, quite convincing as his character tries to justify bad behaviour. He also has a multitude of voices for capturing the artist’s vision of innocence and naïveté in his conquests. Of course, the audience will see the irony in his bravado: always looking down on women, yet cannot function without them. He’s absolutely right when he says, “Cubism and I are full of deception”, but, more than that, Tate expertly cuts the tension with singing and dancing as the scenes transition from one relationship to another.
A curtain frames the stage in the round, often used as a backdrop for pre-filmed and archival footage. In the context of a one-man play, this is a fantastic way of populating the space and providing different energy to contrast with Tate’s constant pacing and erratic behaviour. Reuben Bojang does seamless work on the light transitions and sound mixing; the alternating red and blue during the intimate scenes balances Picasso’s aggressive tendencies in bed and the artistic grievances he uses to reel in women to sleep with him.
While not exactly an accurate retelling of his true life and journey, the piece is happily upfront and honest, stating clearly: “They were great artists; I’m an entertainer” – and entertain Tate’s Picasso does. (Mae Trumata 27/01/23)
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