Picasso's Women

Brian McAvera
The Fruitmarket Gallery
to

Pop-up fringe venues rarely promote productions as professional as this collection of three monologues depicting the lives and loves of a trio of Picasso's lovers during the first half of the 20th century.

They are led off by Judith Paris who tells the tale of passionate Fernande, a serial model and lover of artists.

As one might expect from plays that have been presented at both the National Theatre and on Radio 3, the writing is cultured but also very direct, puncturing some of the myths about the artist at the same time as compiling what eventually fills into a detailed portrait of a deeply flawed genius.

Colette Redgrave, who also directs, takes over as Olga, the former Russian ballerina who enjoyed an equally fiery relationship with the artist.

Finally, Kirsten Moore plays a sweet, innocent Marie-Therese, a victim but also triumphant at having hooked such a great artist, albeit constantly very much aware of the regrettable need to share a man of voracious appetites with others.

For a little over 90 minutes, the three women tell their stories, which are often colourful but also each contain at the very least a hint of bitterness. Together they make very clear the difficulties of living with a tempestuous, free-thinking soul who eventually drove each of them to distraction, if not necessarily an early grave, while also making them deliriously happy at times on the roller-coaster rides of their relationships.

Philip Fisher