BAKERSFIELD MIST by Carol Kaufman Segal
Bakersfield Mist, by Stephen Sachs, was a smash hit comedy when it premiered at the Fountain Theatre June 11, 2011. After it closed at the Fountain Theatre, it played around the world, including London’s West End, only to return to the Fountain Theatre Nov 19, 2016, for a four-week engagement. Due to its continuing popularity, it has now been extended through Jan. 30, 2017.
Stephen Sachs co-founded the Fountain Theatre in 1990 and remains its co-artistic director. He not only wrote this play, but is its director as well. Based on true events, he probably imagined a lot of what happened between the two characters involved, as he wrote it with its two stars in mind.
The husband and wife team of Jenny O’Hara (Maude Gutman) and Nick Ullett, (Lionel Percy), play two such opposite characters that you could not fathom them coming in contact with each other. But it is a rather unusual circumstance that, unexpectedly, finds them together in Maude’s gaudy trailer home in Bakersfield.
Maude is a chain smoking alcoholic who recently lost her job as a bartender. Her trailer is furnished with junk she picks up at rummage sales. During one of her shopping sprees, she spies a painting that she really doesn’t like, but figures for the price of $3.00, what the heck? Then as she looks closer at it, she gets a thought that it might actually turn out to be an authentic Jackson Pollock!
Maude is really feeling down and desperate for her luck to change. The more she thinks about how coming into a lot of money could enhance her life, the more she becomes convinced that the painting is an authentic Pollock! She contacts an art dealer in New York who sends an expert to her home to evaluate the painting. From the moment that Lionel Percy arrives at Maude’s trashy trailer home, he immediately looks aghast at his surroundings. Being the erudite man that he is, he is immediately convinced that this woman could hardly be the owner of an authentic Jackson Pollock!
The repartee that follows between these two misfits is witty as well as revealing. Though intellectual Percy feels he is far and above the likes of what he considers an uneducated lower class person, throughout their back-and-forth banter, he discovers that Maide is not an easy adversary. As their personalities clash, the comedy persists throughout the entire play. Stephen Sachs certainly had the right couple in mind; I find it hard to imagine anyone else doing justice to these two characters.
Bakersfield Mist plays Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, through January 30, 2017, at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles. Tickets are available by calling (323) 663-1525, or online at www.FoountainTheatre.com. Pay-what-you-can Monday nights.