Historyonics Reveals the Soul of Van Gogh

By Kowarsky, Gerry | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 6, 1996 | Go to article overview

Historyonics Reveals the Soul of Van Gogh


Kowarsky, Gerry, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


THE life of Vincent van Gogh, the great Dutch artist, is the subject of "A Fire in the Soul," the current offering of Historyonics Theater Company.

In fashioning staged readings from primary historical documents, Historyonics has seldom worked with more compelling biographical material than the correspondence between van Gogh and his brother, Theo. The company has made the most of the opportunity with a production of great emotional power and intellectual substance.

Larry Roberson's adaptation of the letters and other sources begins when van Gogh was a minister in a Belgian mining community. He took this position because of his deep spirituality. He lost it because of his erratic behavior. He would display the same qualities during the next 10 years of his life, in which he produced hundreds of paintings and sold only one.

The play strikes a nice balance between what happened in van Gogh's life and what happened in his art.

Van Gogh's disappointments in love, his troubled relationship with his parents, and his increasing mental disturbance all find a place in the script, but so do fascinating comments about his artistic goals and how they were affected by his religious fervor and his abiding sympathy for those who were least fortunate of society.

In playing van Gogh, Roberson finds a wide range of expression for the painter's extreme mood swings.

Most impressive is the passion with which Roberson's van Gogh discusses art. …

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