We are watching a man struggling to see how things really are, to get to their essence. He is obsessive and distant but we admire his zeal. The man is Georges Seurat, the19th century French Painter.
He frequently reminds himself to look at "order, design, composition, tension, balance, light and harmony." This is not too dissimilar to a scientist trying to make sense of nature. We are in Paris of the late 1880's and science and art are converging. This is the setting for a revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Pulitzer Prize winning musical playing at The Depot Theatre directed by Alexander Andrews and produced by Rose McLelland playing to 16th September.
The opening act is the coming to life of Seurat's famous composition, "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte." Quarrelling, teasing, flirting and complaining; these are members of Parisian society taking respite in the park on a Sunday. This is the human drama brought to harmony by Seraut played sensitively by Owen Elsley. Included in this drama is his mistress and model, Dot, gracefully acted by Georgina Walker. She loves him and for a woman trying to educate herself reading grammar books ,she has an acuity and understanding of his project.
Obsessed with his art, he rejects Dot, now pregnant with his child. She is then forced to marry a man she does not love. This is heart-wrenching stuff writ large by the fact that Seurat is to die a young man.
Act two is set roughly a hundred years later with George, the great grandson of Seraut struggling to see and distil the essence of reality through his chromolume artwork - flashing lights and science - while navigating the politics of the art world. The musical goes full circle reflecting on the nature of art and humanity in all ages.
This was a sharp and poignant production ably supported by the Conrad Hamill in his musical direction and an energetic supporting cast.