Sunday, November 16, 2014
Theatre: Bakelite Masterpiece
The set design and lighting was very effective in supporting and providing the proper atmosphere for the plot. The entire play took place within van Meegeren's cell, which was dimly lit and claustrophobic for the most part. But when he positioned Pillar to sit at a table by a small window, the faint shaft of light resonating on her gave the feeling of a Vermeer painting. At the beginning of the play, the objects of the set such as a table, chairs, easel and painting utensils were overturned and scattered across the stage. As the plot progressed, van Meegeren would pick up the required pieces to proceed with the current scene. So a table and two chairs were positioned for the interrogation scene, while the easel and paint supplies were retrieved when he prepared to paint. By the end of the play, most of the set had been up-heaved again, bringing us full circle so that the original set arrangement now acted as a harbinger for things to come.
There was an interesting footnote towards the end of the play that implied van Meegeren's forgeries were not very good. At the time, they were accepted because there were not many real Vermeers to compare against, the techniques for detecting forgery were less advanced, but most importantly, people wanted or even needed to believe. Goring desperately wanted a Vermeer in his collection because Hitler had one in his.