“A Weekend with Pablo Picasso” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ May 4, 2015


Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

It’s impossible not to be enraptured by actor/storyteller Herbert Siguenza (si gwen za) as he bounds about the stage with dynamic energy bringing artist Pablo Picasso to vibrant life in Arizona Theatre Company’s season closer, “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso.”

Siguenza doesn’t so much impersonate the late artist.  He interprets Picasso using the artist’s own words to showcase his artistic goals and aspirations.  Siguenza helps audiences understand how and why Picasso expressed his brilliance through his artistic creations.  And Siguenza is not just an actor because, during the play, he actually creates his own canvasses.  At the play’s conclusion the actor gifts one picture to a man in the front row whom became his model during the play, and another creation is available in the lobby for audience bidding after each performance with proceeds going to charity.

Perhaps the best thing about “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso” is not only Siguenza’s boundlessly delightful performance but the script, also crafted exquisitely by the actor, that tells so much about the artist in a non-didactic learning situation that is a joy to watch.

At the play’s end, you will know more about Picasso than you ever gleaned from school studies and the actor allows audiences to experience daily life with Picasso so he can demonstrate how everyday chores and occurrences inspired the artist’s creations.  The play opens with Siguenza in a bathtub washing up.  We see him irritated by pesky telephone calls that interrupt his creative momentum, we see him eat, we see him react to off-stage animals the artist had living with him on his southern France estate in 1957 when the play takes place.

But most interesting, we see Picasso being caught by the creative bug when these everyday occurrences stimulated his mind to create magic on canvass.  We even watch Picasso sleep and see, through vivid projections shown on the walls of his studio, Picasso’s dreams and how those miraculous images find their way into his paintings.

Watching Siguenza is magical fun and the play zips by.  As you leave, you have luridly stunning visual images that will remind you of how Picasso’s artistic genius was crafted and refined.  “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso” is a delightful journey, a fascinating learning tool, and a wonderful performance by Herbert Siguenza as he helps audiences understand the artist and his motivations.

This engaging theater production continues at the Herberger Theater Center through May 17.  For tickets, call the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 602-256-6995 or order tickets online at www.arizonatheatre.org.

Grade: A