Review: Bacon ⭐⭐⭐⭐



TheSpace on the Mile. V39

August 02 – 10 15.05

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 stars)

Here is an intense fifty minutes of drama that provides insights into the minds and lives of the famous 20th century painter Francis Bacon and his lover George Dyer.

We begin with Bacon (Jude Martin) at his easel, but uninspired. Dyer arrives, at first just seeking money, but Bacon is fascinated by him, and Dyer is lured into greater closeness. Dyer (William Leckie) is at first repelled, and engages in some homophobic abuse, but his life is hollow and purposeless, and he despises the people he spends his time with, and becomes more and more attached to Bacon.

The background of both characters is fed in during their interactions, and we never feel we are being given information for its own sake. We learn of the horrors in Bacon’s life that feed into the horrors on his canvases. Bacon’s agent, Mary (Elly Murray Brown), tries to cope with this new force, the hostile Dyer, whilst continuing to promote Bacon.

With Dyer as inspiration, Bacon achieves an international exhibition, but Dyer has declined into drunken dependence. The relationship moves to a tragic conclusion,.

Jude Martin well conveys Bacon’s rapid enthusiasm for Dyer, and his unusually keen reaction to an intruder. William Leckie ably shows us Dyer’s confusion, his distaste for the violence Bacon insists that he use on his body, and his increasing childlike dependence on Bacon.

For anyone who has seen photos of Bacon’s studio and the state of it, it will be possible to imagine the effect on Bacon and Dyer’s clothes when they roll on the floor, fighting and making love in that environment. A backdrop photo of that room would have been enlightening.

See this play for a short, intense view of a deep but troubled and ultimately impossible relationship.

Tony Challis