REVIEW – Great Artists Steal


By Isabella Fraser

There is a mythology that Picasso once said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal” – the actual provenance of the quote travels through writers W H Davenport Adams and T S Eliot to Apple creator Steve Jobs. Ironically this quote then becomes its only self-fulfilling prophecy (that great experts adapt and improve on ideas gone before) just like the premise of this absurdist bilingual (English/French) play.

There is ‘The Man’, the inventor, his wife, ‘The Woman’ and an apprentice, ‘The Younger Man’, but clearly things are not as they seem. New things are invented, but who is the inventor and what do the new inventions mean? The trio of Lecoq-trained actors, Siva Nagapattinam Kasi, Mélanie Tanneau and Cédric Mérillon respectively, bring great energy and character to this piece. It is quirky, physically impressive and easy to understand even if you do not speak French as the clown-like actions of the characters and strange English-esque language somehow make themselves very clear. That The Man refuses to acknowledge The Woman has invented anything – despite evidence to the contrary and the Younger Man embracing The Woman’s inventions – is an interesting point. However, the narrative is not all serious: without giving too much of the storyline away, the section on inventing the wheel is laugh-out-loud funny.

Intelligently written by Seamus Collins and wittily directed by Joanne Allan, this is an entertaining, creative and insightful foray into the ideas of invention, artistry, sexism and where everything comes from. The play deserves a much bigger audience than the one the night of review. If you like slapstick comedy with a meaning behind it, then this is the one for you.

Great Artists Steal runs until 23 August (not Sundays) in theSpace @ Venue 45 at 20.35. Running time is 50 mins.

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