Vincent Van Gogh didn’t just work at things — he attacked them, eulogizes his grieving brother Theo in the Next Arena’s revival of “Vincent.” As performed by French-born actor Jean-Michel Richaud, this insightful and often moving 1981 solo show penned by Leonard Nimoy transcends the usual clichés surrounding the high-maintenance artist with the tortured relationship to his aural appendage.
Nimoy knows from ears, of course, but his script looks beyond merely sensational biographical episodes to the unifying themes in three principal facets of Vincent’s adult life: God, love and art. As Theo admits during an imaginary tribute conducted a week after his brother’s death, Vincent pursued all three with perhaps an overdeveloped sense of drama, but always with passion.
Weaving Theo’s reminiscences with excerpts from more than 500 letters Vincent wrote him, the monologue covers Vincent’s failed attempt to become a preacher, his doomed efforts at romantic relationships and his discovery of his true calling as a painter.
In contrast to the two distinct voices Nimoy employed in his original performances of the piece, Richaud renders both brothers with a single inflection style. The approach may more naturalistically fit the premise (resolutely conformist Theo reading aloud Vincent’s letters), but it comes at the cost of less cleanly differentiated personalities.