Review: The beautifully bittersweet My Night With Reg at the Donmar Warehouse
Review: Pell Mell's Duchess of Malfi at the New Diorama Theatre

Review: Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid in Bakersfield Mist

Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid in Bakersfield Mist at the Duchess Theatre

Fantastic to get the chance to see a Hollywood acting legend like Kathleen Tuner on the West End stage and opposite Star Wars' Emporer Ian McDiarmid to boot.

Bakersfield Mist is inspired by true events and sees snobby, upper-crust art expert Lionel (McDiarmid) flying to Bakersfield, California, to determine whether the thrift-store painting bought by unemployed barmaid Maud (Turner) is a genuine Pollock as she claims.

The authenticity of the painting is important but not really the crux of the play. Maud and Lionel are chalk and a cheese in almost every sense except they are both firebrands. Maud is passionate about proving the painting is a Pollock for reasons that go beyond the money it might yield. For Lionel art is his life and passion, he is extremely knowledgeable but that manifests itself in a superior, self-satisfied and patronising manner.

As you'd expect the two don't immediately hit it off but at the end of the visit and after working their way through a bottle of Jack Daniels they have both discovered something about art, themselves and each other.

At times Bakersfield Mist feels like it is trying too hard to be funny and too hard to inject energy into the play through physical comedy when the underlying story and personalities would probably suffice. As a result Lionel does feel a little too big and borderline farcical at times although he was getting huge laughs from some members of the audience so it might be your thing.

Kathleen Turner is wonderful as the tough, rough-edged and chipper Maud and you can't help but warm to her and the journey that she goes on. She is the reason to go and see this and the some of the exchanges between her and Lionel are sublime. But overall the play is good but not great.

It runs at the Duchess Theatre until the 9 Aug and you can nab yourself a bargain priced ticket from the official website.


Wanted to find a connection with Kathleen Turner and here it is: She was in Prizzi's Honour with Jack Nicholson who was in the Witches of Eastwick with Susan Sarandon who was in Cloud Atlas with Mr W.