In August 1911, scores of people – among them, Franz Kafka – queued to see the Louvre’s latest attraction; a blank space. It wasn’t the space however, but that which had formerly filled it which was fuelling interest. The Mona Lisa had been stolen and in a twist of fate befitting The Trial, Pablo Picasso became the prime suspect. The Peculiar Tale of Pablo Picasso and the Mona Lisa is Fourth Monkey’s ambitious attempt at dramatising this absurd story.
When compared with the company’s other period piece, Sans Salomé, The Peculiar Tale of Pablo Picasso is by far the more interesting and honest of the two. The direction captures the surrealism of both the story and the arts movement, complete with giant tea cups and a menacing set of marching easels. This, coupled with a motley group of fancifully attired characters creates a visually delectable theatrical experience. The cast also all exude an infectious sense of energy which only adds to the enjoyment. Yet it still lacks that petit objet, preventing this from becoming a fully satisfying show. Like those staring at the empty wall of the Louvre, the audience is left admiring the daring but longing for something more.