Home > "The Bakelite Masterpiece" {review}
"The Bakelite Masterpiece" {review}

Short Description of "The Bakelite Masterpiece" {review}

“The Bakelite Masterpiece” [thru 10/23]

Stockbridge, MA

Berkshire Theatre Group



Post World War II. The world was torn apart. It was seeking retribution. Homelessness. Death. Despair. Revenge.


Holland, home to some of the greatest artists the world has ever known, lost some of its prize possessions—art. Priceless art. Lots of priceless art. All the greats were here, hanging in rooms, museums, private collections.

And the Nazis wanted them.

When the stage opens to a bleak, grey, dismal setting, we see a disheveled, addicted and trembling Van Meegeren {Adkins}, a famous artist accused of aiding and abetting the enemy. His crime?  To save his life, he handed a prized painting by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer to Hermann Goering. The year: Sometime after WWII, when Holland, like the rest of the world, was free with the jailor’s noose. Meegeren’s jailor, who decides his guilt or innocence, is a subdued but bitter Geert Pillar {May}, an art historian and resistance fighter. Whoever the hangman is, he takes his directions from Pillar.

Van Meegeren is deeply troubled, deeply addicted. Is he covering for his sin, or terrified of the penalty that awaits if found guilty? He claims his innocence. A successful artist himself, Van Meegeren delves to offer his one true defense: That he handed over a forgery that he himself painted, rather than give Goering the true, authentic masterpiece. His trial and testimony becomes a canvass and paint brush as he tries to paint his way out of condemnation.

The “Bakelite Masterpiece” is perhaps one of the best shows of the year. Adkins performance is brilliant, as he takes us into the enigmatic, addicted world of post-war Holland. He cowers somewhere between the pain of the brilliant artist trapped between dimensions, and the corner of submission and fear; the audience never really knows. His performance is convincing, fearfully so, where you find yourself with goosebumps thankful you’re not him.

The script is excellently penned, directed and presented; Adkins and May portray the depths of sorrow and revenge of post war Holland. It is moving, riveting, suspenseful, and a must see, as it tries to envelop the other side of the greatest art heist of all time.

This work is proudly presented by Kristen van Ginhoven and WAM, a humanitarian theatre group that provides a percentage of proceeds to female causes. As we stated long ago, “Cause for theatre, theatre for cause.”

--Richard DiMaggio, didyouweekend.com


By Kate Cayley

Directed by Kristen van Ginhoven


David Adkins and Corinna May

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Address: Stockbridge, MA, USA

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