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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Picasso stole the Mona Lisa

Cambridge University ADC

Genre: Drama, Theatre

Venue: C Nova


Low Down

Guillame Apollinaire enters his studio to find, sitting on an easel, under a dust sheet, the Mona Lisa. Aided by Pablo Picasso they engineer their own arrest, botch getting rid of the darn thing and end up being the target of a plot masterminded by Laurence Olivier.


This is an amusing run through some absurd ideas. The action is preceded by a projected warning that this may not be true. We then begin with Apollinaire entering drunk but quickly sobering up as he realises he has the painting. When his friend, Picasso, arrives they continue the absurdity by trying to get rid of it. With some clever video work we are taken outside and see the attempts they make to get rid of the painting. Upon their return we have the interfering neighbour they knock out with a wine bottle, Olivier discovering his wife – for it is she – unconscious on the chez longue, arrests of both artists and an interrogation by two Gendarmes and then the denouement which makes as much sense as the previous 55 minutes.

This is an amusing rather than rip roaring hour in the company of some decent actors. The script has plenty to motor it along with some good in jokes that groan as well as mark the places they visit in the text. The whole premise that these two artists have stolen the painting and then end up keeping it as it was all a plot by Olivier requires you to hitch a ride on their wagon and go along with it. The audience and I did and enjoyed it.

This is partly because the cast take this premise and run with it as hard as they can. There are a few places where wandering across the stage is taken as direction but mainly there is a discipline kept throughout. The use of projections and video help immensely but the constant interruptions of Olivier in many guises amused those who knew the actor more than it did me.

Theatre arts were well used and the set was functional but evocative of the period at which they were aiming.

Overall this was a good piece of theatre, if a little self indulgent. There are things to like and not much to dislike and it made for a pleasant evening’s entertainment. Watch though for the bow. If like me, you need to get out quickly you are in danger of ending up in it.