Review: Adoration of Dora

Adoration of Dora, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $20. Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th Street, Classroom 10; (916) 454-1500; Through November 14.
Rated 3.0

Known for its gutsy, provocative approach to theater, it's no surprise that KOLT Run Creations' newest production—Adoration of Dora by playwright Lojo Simon—holds nothing back. This is the story of Dora Maar, a pioneer in the field of artistic photography who becomes enamored with painter Pablo Picasso, and he with her, resulting in a mad melding of art, sex and inspiration.

Adoration of Dora is cleverly written and produced in a surrealistic style, where art, politics, sexuality and sensuality swirl around the story of Maar and her struggling relationship with her art and her lover.

This is an all-female theatrical offering—from playwright Simon to director Kellie Yvonne Raines and her six-woman cast—and the result is a gutsy, avant-garde production of a thought-provoking, though at times convoluted, play. It’s a portrayal of Dora (nicely nuanced by Bridggett Bess), as well as her inner self-reflection (powerfully portrayed by Kelley Ogden) and the catty and chatty Parisian café women, the changing art world and a myriad of Picasso’s mistresses and muses.

Maar is a contradiction. She’s a bold woman determined to explore the newly emerging art form of photography and also an artist who gets lost in the world of Picasso. We watch her slow slide into depression and mental illness.

There are some challenges in this production that can be smoothed out during the run—most notably the blinding spotlights positioned in the four corners of the Sierra 2 Center classroom where the play is staged. Also, Picasso’s works are displayed throughout the play, but ironically, virtually none by Maar—whose personal journey is being portrayed.

Mostly, however, the play itself needs a bit more focus—though Maar’s journey is captivating and the performances give life to her personal and artistic struggle.