Sept. 18 2013 11:05 AM

San Diego Rep production tops our coverage of local plays

Herbert Siguenza
Photo by Daren Scott

Herbert Siguenza doesn't merely portray Picasso in his one-man show, A Weekend with Pablo Picasso—he inhabits him. From the opening moments, when he's luxuriating in his bath to the creation of the last of the weekend's six paintings—attacking a canvas with the flourish of a bullfighter—Siguenza lives the passion, joy and ferocity of the legendary artist. Yet there's a playfulness to this inhabitation that staves off self-indulgence, a warmth as radiant as the south of France, where this play is set.

Siguenza, an artist-in-residence at San Diego Repertory Theatre, first proposed the idea of the Picasso show to Rep artistic director Sam Woodhouse five years ago. A year-and-a-half later, Siguenza, who wrote the script, workshopped the one-act play there. After productions in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Denver, A Weekend with Pablo Picasso, directed by San Diego Rep associate artistic director Todd Salovey, has returned to the place of its origin.

The premise: Picasso, at age 76, has been commissioned to complete six paintings and three vases over the course of a single weekend—which he knocks off as easily as one would a glass of red wine. The audience serves as watchful art students with whom the great painter shares his philosophies, his wit and a few confessions over the course of the weekend. Along the way, Siguenza, an accomplished painter in his own right, creates a body of Picasso-like paintings and sketches. It's fascinating to watch him work as quickly and deftly as he does. The lessons imparted about art—in particular how it's inexorably intertwined with politics—are taught less by a professor to his students than by a man of the world to other, more innocent, members of his kind.

As you might expect, there is no dramatic arc to A Weekend with Pablo Picasso, no action rising to clear climax. This weekend unfolds at Picasso's whim. Not mere monologue, the show is enlivened by music, stage projections and bits that find Siguenza not only in a bullfighter's cape, but also at one point donning the red nose of a clown. But it's the intermittent painting on stage that most makes us believe that we are, incredibly, in the presence of a personality as towering as his art.

A Weekend with Pablo Picasso runs through Oct. 6 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. $31-$58.

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A Fundamental Change: Musical genres like rap, rock and gospel are used to explore how bad times bring people together and why some folks strive for peace while others engage in senseless violence. Opens Sept. 19 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Two guys, named Jack and Algernon, pretend to be Earnest to win over a couple of ladies who've got a thing for the name. Oscar Wilde's funniest play, presented by Cygnet Theatre, opens Sept. 18 at Old Town Theatre.

The Last Goodbye: Dig Jeff Buckley? How about Shakespeare? Get some of both from this modern take on Romeo and Juliet set to Buckley's music. Opens Sept. 22 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Skin Deep: Maureen Mulligan is overweight, middle-aged and single. But, she decides to go on a blind date anyhow, which leads to some important life lessons. Opens Sept. 20 at Broadway Theatre in Vista.

Two by Shepard: SDSU stages Sam Shepard's Fool for Love, about a woman trying to escape a destructive relationship, and Action, about four people stuck at the end of the world. Opens Sept. 20 at the Experimental Theatre on the SDSU campus.

The Who's Tommy: Some San Diego trivia: Des McAnuff, former artistic director at the La Jolla Playhouse, co-wrote this musical with Pete Townshend, based on The Who's album about a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard. Opens Sept. 18 at Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista.

Now playing

The 39 Steps: A comedic, four-actor stage version of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, as if performed by Monty Python, with lots of allusions to other Hitchcock classics. Through Sept. 22 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado.

Almost, Maine: A bunch of short plays about relationships in a mythical Northeast town. Through Sept. 22 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido.

The Tempest: Shakespeare's oft-performed play about a wizard who inhabits a Mediterranean island. Through Sept. 22 at Coronado Playhouse.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Tom Stoppard's existentialist play turns two minor characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet into lead characters. Through Sept. 26 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare's play, about a man who borrows money to court a woman, gave us the terms "shylock" and "a pound of flesh." Through Sept. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Shining City: Ion Theatre starts its eight season with the San Diego premiere of a story about two men, a widower and his therapist, both trying to sort out their lives' trajectories. Through Sept. 28 at BLKBLOX Theatre in Hillcrest.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in the opener of The Old Globe's summer Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

Man with a Load of Mischief: In this musical period piece, a lord, a lady and their two servants entangle themselves in a mess of seduction and deception while stranded at an inn in the English countryside. Through Sept. 29 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

Marry Me a Little: This one—which takes songs from other Stephen Sondheim musicals and places them in a story about two lonely young New Yorkers—was inserted into Diversionary Theatre's current season to commemorate the recent Supreme Court decisions in favor of marriage equality. The production alternates the characters—two men, two women, one man and one woman—so choose a performance accordingly. Through Sept. 29 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights.

miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown.

A Weekend with Pablo Picasso: Herbert Siguenza brings the legendary modern artist back to life in a one-man show. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through Oct. 6 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown.

Lettice and Lovage: A woman gets sacked from her job leading tours of a boring 16th-century English hall for making up fascinating stories about it and later sparks up a friendship with the woman who fired her. Through Oct. 6 at Scripps Ranch Theatre.

The Maids: When the woman of the house is away, two maids begin to play—in a sadomasochistic way. Presented by Talent to aMuse Theatre Company, it runs through Oct. 6 at 10th Avenue Theatre, Downtown.

Logan Heights: The local premiere of a play, by Josefina Lopez (Real Women Have Curves), about an immigrant family living in the titular San Diego neighborhood. Through Oct. 12 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill.


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