What is art? ‘Bakersfield Mist’ asks | PostIndependent.com

What is art? ‘Bakersfield Mist’ asks

Trary Maddalone LaMee and Mike Monroney in "Bakersfield Mist".
Staff Photo |


“Bakersfield Mist” opens Thursday, December 10 and runs Dec. 11-13 and 17-20. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m., except Sunday matinees, 2 p.m.

Tickets are available at http://www.thunderrivertheatre.com or by calling 970-963-8200.

Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $17 for 20- to 30-something young adults and $14 for full-time students.

What would you do if you found a priceless painting at a thrift store?

If you’re the protagonist of Stephen Sachs’ “Bakersfield Mist,” running this week and next at the Thunder River Theatre, you might give it to a neighbor as a gag gift and contemplate shooting holes in it before someone set you straight.

Inspired by real events, the play centers on the discovery of a suspected work by Jackson Pollock in a California trailer park, and the fallout when a man arrives from New York to authenticate the piece.

“You get this clash between two completely different worldviews, and the fun ensues,” director Corey Simpson said. “It’s a really interesting piece because it starts off as a comedy and moves toward drama as it progresses. What the piece is really about is what makes art — and more importantly people — authentic.”

It’s also Simpson’s first directing project as the new associate director for the Thunder River Theatre company.

“For so long it has just been [founder and executive director] Lon [Winston] doing everything,” Simpson said. “Thunder River is now ready to take that next step.”

The pair had no trouble agreeing on the play, which among other things benefits from a small but experienced cast.

Trary Maddalone LaMee appeared in the company’s very first production, and is looking forward to her role as Maude Gutman.

“I was interested from the beginning in this project,” she said. “I love the central question, which is ‘what is art?’ And it really is a matter of perspective.”

The role is not without its challenges.

“This character is a much bolder person than I am,’ she explained. “She goes after what she wants relentlessly. I tend to use a little more finesse. So that takes some energy.”

Despite his theater degree and extensive experience at Aspen’s famous Crystal Palace as well as several performances at Thunder River, Mike Monroney has also found some challenges to sink his teeth into as Lionel Percy. After all, half the lines are his.

“For 75 minutes you’re going,” he said.

There’s also the matter of the character himself.

“I don’t think he’s likable, but I think you’ll have empathy for who he is,” Monroney said. “When you get to know the guy and explore who he really is, he’s quite complex. He’s uptight. He’s snobby, and he’s occasionally cruel, but he’s also true to himself. He doesn’t waver. I admire him for that.”

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