With two wives, numerous mistresses, and anywhere between 14 and 40 children, the personal life of controversial artist Lucian Freud is the subject of much salacious speculation and now a new play at the Leicester Square Theatre - An Evening With Lucian Freud.
This 'one-woman play is based on the real life experience of PHD student Laura as she tells the tale of an evening spent with the iconic artist. Written by Cambridge University art history and creative writing lecturer Laura-Jane Foley, the script captures the shift from awe-struck to jaded that comes with meeting heroes. The wide-eyed naivety (she is disappointed that the artists eat with cutlery rather than flinging food onto canvas) grew a little grating. There was plenty of charming innocence, but we were disappointed that the protagonist didn't develop to be more analytical or sceptical.
The story itself, like the artist at its centre, is colourful and vibrant. No familiarity with Freud is required, but seasoned art historians will be gratified with a smattering of in-jokes. While the account of this unusual encounter was lively, it was the video snippets from Freud's models that we most illuminating: 'It looked like me, but it didn't feel like me' one model said of the portrait that took nine months of torturous contortion on her part, 'it was like he hated me'.
It is a shame that the subtleties of the show are suffocated by over-the-top choreography, which presents every action along with a flurry of unnecessary flailing.
Cressida Bonas - acting breakthrough
The biggest draw of this one-woman show is up-and-coming actress, socialite, and ex-girlfriend of Prince Harry, Cressida Bonas. An Evening With Lucian Freud shows Bonas stepping out of the shadow of her royal former beau. With 2015 comprising of a burgeoning stage career, a role in forthcoming film Tulip Fever (with Cara Delevigne, Christoph Waltz and Judi Dench) and new Mulberry campaign, Bonas doesn't need to be a princess to attract hoards of fans.
Those booking just for the big name won't be disappointed: there's lots of Cressida in the show. Her animated account of meeting the artist is relayed with plenty of spark, all in a dreamy but cut-glass monologue. Though the over-zealous movement has her throwing herself around, Bonas does a fine job of bringing out the underlying emotions that could be lost in twirls. She certainly has the magnetism and confidence to pull off a one woman show. And the offbeat elements of both production and subject matter, show that she's not afraid of a challenge.
|What||An Evening with Lucian Freud, Leicester Square|
Leicester Square Theatre
6 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BX | MAP
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
19 May 15 – 06 Jun 15, 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Leicester Square Theatre|