Van Gogh's Ear & A Lesson From Gauguin
Premiered March, 1999
Comedies Starring John O'Connell & F. William Parker
Love and Its Quirks Connect "Gauguin" With "Van Gogh's Ear"
Article from the L.A. Times, March 26, 1999
"Under Norman Cohen's adept direction, John O'Connell and F. William Parker skillfully apply gentle humor to Matt Swan's loosely connected two-character one-acts, "A Lesson From Gauguin": and "Van Gogh's Ear,"at the Fremont Centre Theatre. This bill is about quirky expressions of love rather than the artists themselves.
In October 1888, Paul Gauguin (Parker) wanders into a dressmaker's shop, hoping the proprietor, Herr Dietzel, can direct him to their mutual friend, Van Gogh. Instead, Gauguin discovers the clerk, Felix (O'Connell), making love to a mannequin. As a frequenter of whorehouses, Gauguin endeavors to teach the lovelorn clerk the ways of love.
On Christmas Eve of the same year, Van Gogh (O'Connell) is home alone when Dietzel (Parker) comes to share some good cognac and holiday cheer. Van Gogh asks advice on how to make a good impression when presenting his beloved with his severed ear. This is all played for fun with O'Connell and Parker working with exquisite timing. They mug and roll their eyes to acknowledge the daftness of the situations, but Cohen doesn't let the two go over the top. There's an air of respectful irreverence.
Having O'Connell first play the clerk who momentarily parodies Van Gogh then play Van Gogh lends an odd poignancy to the second act. Parker plays Gauguin as a vain artiste, yet his Dietzel is a hard-working merchant trying to humor the increasingly worrisome behavior of his friend. This isn't art history, but a feather-light trifle that humanizes two painters with great comedic flair."
L.A.Weekly PICK OF THE WEEK 1999
"...fun..exquisite timing..respectful irreverence..humanizes two painters with great comedic flair." - L.A. Times
"The plays are humorous variations on a single theme: the bemusement of a practical man when confronted by a semi-demented visionary who lives on a symbolic plane. Swan's clever writing provides ample opportunities for Parker and O'Connell to exercise their near-perfect teamwork as they exploit every comic possibility, and director Norman Cohen blends their efforts into a seamless delight." - L.A.Weeklly, 1999
"It's a fascinating, funny, apocryphal snapshot--entertaining and thought-provoking at once." - San Gabriel Valley News/ Pasadena Star-News (March 26, 1999)
"Swan's clever writing provides ample opportunities for Parker and O'Connell to exercise their near-perfect teamwork as they exploit every comic possibility, and director Norman Cohen blends their efforts into a seamless delight." - L.A. Weekly