Still Life: An Audience With Henrietta Moraes (3 stars)

This article is from 2012

Still Life: an Audience With Henrietta Moraes

An hour away from frenzied fringe with immersive monologue/life-drawing

It’s pretty disconcerting being addressed by a naked, middle-aged woman, but you soon get used to it. And when she invites you to draw her body, you might feel self-conscious at first – but as writer and actor Sue MacLaine’s life drawing-cum-monologue progresses, it all seems to make perfect sense.

MacLaine plays Henrietta Moraes, muse to artists including Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, and delivers fractured observations from Moraes’ eventful life in a somewhat measured, deliberate performance, interspersed with opportunities to draw her. Paper and pencils are provided.

Quite apart from providing an hour of calm away from the frenzy of the Fringe, in involving the audience in the artistic process MacLaine’s show immerses you in the art world, providing an added resonance for her decadent stories of casual sex, casual drugs and their fallout in jail and illness.

It’s sometimes too inward looking, and some knowledge of the greats of 20th-century art will help with comprehension, but as an opportunity to dip a toe into a strange and stimulating world, it’s highly successful.

Whitespace, 226 0000, until 27 Aug (not 14), 5.15pm, £12 (£9).

Still Life: An Audience With Henrietta Moraes

  • 3 stars

Written and portrayed by Sue MacLaine, White Space Gallery hosts model-in-residence Henrietta Moraes; the uncrowned Queen of 1950's Soho. Hers was an itinerant and rackety life, sustained by tolerant friends, oiled by alcohol and fuelled by an astonishing variety of drugs. Her Guardian obituary, in 1999, gave her…

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