Invisibility permeates Steven Dietz’s “Inventing Van Gogh”: most notably, the invisibility that worldwide fame, scholarly attention and massive financial value can bestow upon a painting. A sort of Stoppard-lite, Dietz’s play of ideas switches frenetically between past and present in order to hack away at the encrustations of myth between us and Vincent van Gogh. Like its eponymous hero, “Inventing Van Gogh” won’t win awards for subtlety. It lays on its themes (art, love, money) thick and broad, and its nominal plot (about a contemporary artist forging a “lost” van Gogh) is pursued so half-heartedly that it’s easy to forget why van Gogh is supposedly haunting the studio. But the play, at least in Bailiwick’s current production, makes up in a restless energy what it lacks in refinement. The heart of the play is the confrontations between Patrick Stone (Scott Aiello) and van Gogh (Michael Sherwin), and both actors ignite these debates with a passion that defies their shopworn quality. Jared Moore’s lighting design drenches Stone’s studio with color, transforming the set into a post-impressionist tableau. If the play itself seems something of a throwback, the kind of workmanlike piece that once slaked a theatre-going public’s relentless demand for new material, its vibrant theatrical pleasures underline the merits of that world now mostly lost. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.