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Fri 25 Jun 2010 return to previous page

The Old Masters: Broadway play to star Brain Murray & Sam Waterston

Brian MurraySam Waterston
Brain MurraySam Waterston

The U.S. premiere of Simon Gray’s The Old Masters, is expected to arrive on Broadway in 2011, directed by Michael Rudman and starring Tony nominees Brain Murray ('The Crucible,' 'The Little Foxes,' Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead') and Sam Waterston ('Abe Lincoln in Illinois.')

Connecticut's Long Wharf stage have announced that the two actors are to star in the production where it will play a pre-Broadway engagement from 19 Jan -13 Feb 2011.

The Old Masters: 1937, a perfect summer's day. In the magnificent gardens of his opulent Villa overlooking Florence, Bernard Berenson (Waterston), the renowned Art critic, connoisseur, writer, and collector, is taking his ease discussing art and world affairs with his wife, Mary, and with Nicky, his mistress.

Meanwhile, unknown to Berenson, in a hotel in Florence, multimillionaire Joseph Duveen (Murray), the world's most pre-eminent art dealer, is preparing to visit him late that night. He has with him a priceless Renaissance painting for Berenson to examine - though he knows that this may shatter their 30 year-old - and highly secret - business arrangement.

Midnight in a library in Mussolini's Italy. Two Jewish intellectuals with the storm gathering around them. Men who virtually invented the international art market - And an enigmatic masterpiece at the heart of the matter: how much does the true value of a work of art depend on its attribution? What happens when that attribution is open to doubt?

Simon Gray's play lays open the fascinating world of the market in fine art, exploring issues of true value, of provenance, and of forgery and fraud artistic and personal, via the real life relationship between Duveen and Berenson.

The play had its world premiere at London's West End Comedy Theatre, where it played from 16 Jun - 28 Dec 2004. Directed by Harold Pinter it starred Edward Fox as 'Bernard Berenson' and Peter Bowles as 'Duveen.'

The London production received mixed reviews: Shrewd, beautifully articulated drama (Independent); In the final analysis, the piece is less illuminating about art, less touching in its account of human love...See it for Fox and Bowles, two wily old masters in their prime. (Telegraph); Fascinating play (The Times).

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