Cressida Bonas stars as Laura in this one woman show, An Evening with Lucian Freud, alongside a variety of celebrity video cameos. Laura is a PhD student and we find her on the day of her viva, waiting due to her early arrival at the university’s research office. Laura’s viva is about the artist Lucian Freud, and as she waits she tells the audience of her surreal and extraordinary evening she spent with the artist himself.
Laura, based on the play’s writer, Laura-Jane Foley, wrote this play based on her on actual encounter with Freud and the audience are let in to some of her most bizarre anecdotes as well as her critical and admiring eye for his work. The cameos used in this show are based on fictional characters who were sitters for the artist and give an insight as to how he worked in his studio.
To call this play theatrical would be an understatement. Bonas leaps about on the stage and acts out every word that leaves her lips. While this makes the play far more interesting to watch than if she had simply stood as spoken at the audience for an hour, this does mean that if you are unlucky enough to miss out on a front row seat, you also miss out on half the action.
Bonas is a very energetic and charming Laura and carries the play on her own wonderfully. However, sometimes her pauses pass the point of pausing for effect and it becomes a bit confusing as to whether she’s waiting for something to happen or she is actually just pausing.
The play has the perfect balance between insight to Freud’s life without revealing too much or just becoming an hour’s worth of gossip. Between Laura and the cameos we learn that Freud was not a man to be interviewed and so they don’t strip away the element of mystique from the old artist.
The writing and the acting mix together brilliantly to keep the audience interested for the whole hour, helped of course with a few familiar faces in the cameos (Alastair Stewart, Benjamin Ramm, Maureen Lipman, Shana Swash and Russell Grant). It would just be worth changing the staging to suit the theatre a bit more so audience members don’t miss half the performance. Foley’s story is fascinating and one that everyone can only dream of, whether it be Freud or their own celebrity icon and Bonas is completely loveable with just the right amounts of naivety and passion.
An Evening with Lucian Freud is playing at Leicester Square Theatre until 6 June. For tickets and more information, see the Leicester Square Theatre website. Photo by Wonderful Artful Theatre.