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Barn Summer Playhouse Examines Death, Picasso and Relationships

Series kicks off Friday, June 21 with Death and Picasso: An Evening of Comedies, and closes in July with “Ashes to Ashes”
Photo by: Robin Stone
Melanie Snow and Tom Chace star in the Barn Summer Playhouse's production of "Ashes to Ashes."

BRISTOL, R.I. – This year’s Barn Summer Playhouse Series promises to make you laugh and ponder the meaning in relationships.

Kicking off the season this Friday (June 21) is Death and Picasso: An Evening of Comedies – two one-act plays exploring personal expression in comedic and thought-provoking ways.

In “A Picasso,” the iconic artist plays a cat-and-mouse game with a Nazi interrogator in occupied Paris intent on determining which is the authentic Picasso work amongst forgeries in order to burn his work in a “degenerate art” exhibition.

Director Dorisa Boggs finds Picasso a compelling character and describes the dialogue between the artist and interrogator as brilliant and clever: “Their clash of wit and wills examines the place of art and politics in society,” she says.  

The second one-act comedy of the evening,  “A Funeral Parlor” – written by one of Boggs’s favorite playwrights, Christopher Durang – is a quirky and lighthearted end to the night. Promising lots of laughs, the play features a widow’s encounter with a bizarre mourner at her husband’s funeral.

Death and Picasso: An Evening of Comedies will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 21, Saturday, June 22, Thursday, June 27, Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29 in the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors.

Closing out the season in July is an award-winning drama that represents the maturation of playwright Harold Pinter’s prodigious works. In “Ashes to Ashes,” a married couple searches for meaning as the wife’s recollections of a past lover clash with her husband’s need for a single truth. A haunting search for meaning in relationships, this rich, layered play poses plenty of questions and doesn’t provide many answers, according to director Robin Stone.

“Pinter’s writing evolved through three main phases, and this play includes elements of all of those phases – his plays that explore menace, his memory plays, and his political plays,” Stone says. “While there isn’t a lot of action in the play it is incredibly poetic – the imagery that’s evoked by their interactions is very powerful and vivid.”

Characteristic of Pinter’s works, the couple’s reactions to each other’s barbed comments are kept measured and restrained in order to maintain the barricades they put up, Stone explains:

“Think of it like a jungle, or survival of the fittest – you don’t show that you’re injured because if you show your weak point, your opponent will come after that.”

“Ashes to Ashes” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. from Wednesday July 10 through Saturday, July 13 in the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors.

For more information on the Performing Arts Center Summer Series, call (401) 254-3626. For advance reservations, call (401) 254-3666.