Picasso Stole the Mona Lisa

The Cambridge University Amateur Dramatic Club has failed to hit the nail on the mark with their latest show Picasso Stole the Mona Lisa. With a silly plot which doesn’t make any sense, they fail to make it funny enough to become a farce or clever enough to be an interesting story.

This is a show which feels like a failed improvised comedy.

The premise of their show is that one day the poet Guillaume Apollinaire wakes up to find that the Mona Lisa has appeared in his apartment, after it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. Everyone is obviously confused about how it could have appeared there and this eventually leads to him and his friend Pablo Picasso being arrested and interrogated by the French police.

To put it bluntly, the jokes are not funny but obvious and out-dated. Even their attempts to acknowledge their bad puns fail to cause a stir of laughter. This isn’t helped by the bizarre role of Will Dalrymple who keeps interrupting the story as he comes out to impersonate different literary characters such as James Joyce or Ernest Hemingway at different points in the show. These impersonations are neither accurate nor funny and it feels more like the actors are acting out their own inside jokes onstage rather than performing humour which everybody can understand and enjoy.

The plot is ludicrous but that could have been forgiven if the whole story didn’t seem to drag on, long-winded. There are many times that a monologue seems to be included for no reason other than to increase the length of the show, neither adding humour nor driving the plot along. This is most prominent during the interrogation of Guillaume, as the policeman digresses several times away from the story and rants on about things that seem irrelevant.

The saving grace is Natalie Reeve who plays the female French police officer. She is the only one who has mastered the art of comic timing and whenever she enters, the energy and life goes back into the play.

This is a show which feels like a failed improvised comedy. The players need to work on understanding the genre of a farce in order to bring life and humour to this show. 

Reviews by Emily Blackwell

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The Blurb

Most famous for his Blue Period, founding Cubism, and his life in Bohemian Paris, Pablo Picasso is probably less remembered as the man, who, along with poet Guillaume Apollinaire, was arrested for the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. When the missing painting mysteriously appears in Apollinaire’s apartment, everyone becomes very, very confused. Faced with the finest examples of Parisian constabulary which could be found at short notice on a Sunday afternoon, can the Bohemian pair prove their innocence? ‘An innovative and highly entertaining farce’ (Varsity).