Vincent, Festival Fringe Review

Vincent is a one-man play about the troubled and turbulent life of Vincent Van Gogh. The play was written by Leonard ‘Spock’ Nimoy and has become one of the most successful touring productions since its inception in 1981. Jim Jarrett has been playing Theo, Vincent’s much loved younger brother, for the past 12 years.

Vincent programme cover Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The play is set in a Parisian lecture hall several days after Vincent’s funeral. Being unable to speak at Vincent’s funeral, Theo invites friends, family and whoever else will listen to a tribute to his brother. Theo, an art dealer in Paris, tirelessly supported Vincent financially, emotionally and professionally. The play is based on the hundreds of letters Vincent religiously wrote to his brother. By reminiscing and reading from letters, Theo attempts to ‘explain’ his brother. Initially it is almost like a presentation or lecture. However the emotion does build as Theo portrays a lonely man prone to fits of madness and lucidity, an artist so lacking in confidence he thought his work to be worthless. The latter part of the play is the most poignant describing the last few months of Van Gogh’s life where he lived in the south of France. During this period he painted some of his best and most famous works, for example Starry Night and Sunflowers, but sadly was at his most ill - being committed to an asylum, cutting off his left ear and eventually shooting himself. Photos and images of Van Gogh’s works are shown intermittently throughout the performance carefully timed to add impact to Nimoy’s script.

Although I enjoyed the simple premise of the play and would recommend it, given the tragedy of Vincent Van Gogh’s life I feel the play should have had a bigger emotional impact. Some of the audience may have left better informed but not truly moved by this production.

Essential | Worth a watch | One to miss

The play runs until 25 August at the Assembly Rooms. To complement this, you can see examples of Vincent Van Gogh’s work at the Impressionism & Scotland exhibition showing at the National Gallery until 12 October.

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