Art About Art About Art: Dramaworks' Pitmen Painters
Art as an ennobling sanctification for both the artist and the observer whose interpretation completes the symbiotic circle is just one of a dozen themes swirling around Palm Beach Dramaworks' stimulating production of The Pitmen Painters. Dramawork's skilled ensemble of character actors led by director J. Barry Lewis delivers a thought-provoking...evening of theater. Set just before, during and after World War II, a group of miners and their friends seeking an evening of adult education randomly choose an art appreciation class. When the teacher finds they have no exposure to art to appreciate, he assigns them to create it themselves just as a way to familiarize themselves with the ideas. ...All this philosophy is made accessible by Lewis, South Florida's expert at clearly depicting complex concepts, plus the down to earth performances from a troupe of Dramaworks' veterans. All of them deliver seamless, credible performances, especially the men who are never quite comfortable in a world that they had been taught to believe was reserved for a more refined, intellectual class. ...As always, Dramaworks' skilled creative team creates a multi-sensory environment. Michael Amico who bowled everyone over with his detailed set last fall for All My Sons, wisely dials it back for a simpler but equally evocative multi-purpose scene lined with dark woods that could be the same ones used to shore up the galleries in the mines instead of the galleries in museums. He's aided immeasurably by the morphing lighting of Ron Burns, and Matt Corey's jolting soundscape of screeching whistles, clanging bells and grinding gears that remind us this is not a world of drawing room and high tea. Erin Amico has clad the men in a variety of modest tweedy Sunday-go-to-meeting outfits offset by rough work shoes.