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"Another Vermeer" at Abingdon Theatre Company
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"Another Vermeer" at Abingdon Theatre Company

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Another Vermeer
Abingdon Theatre Company
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre

Another Vermeer
By Bruce J. Robinson
At the
Abingdon Theatre Company
312 West 36th Street

Starring: Austin Pendelton as Han Van Meegeren
With: Justin Grace as Bram Van Ter Horst
Dan Cordle as Jan Vermeer/Bartus Korteling
Christian Pedersen as Lt. Thomas Keller
Thom Christopher as Dr. Abraham Bredius

Directed by Kelly Morgan
Set Design: Jeff Pajer
Lighting Design: Matthew McCarthy
Costume Designer: Deborah Caney
Lighting Design: Tony Kudner
Sound Design: Kevin Lloyd
Production Manager: Ian Grunes
Production Stage Manager: Yuriy Nayer
Casting: William Schill
Associate Artistic Director: Kim T. Sharp
Press: Shirley Herz Associates
Director of Marketing: Doug DeVita

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 15, 2008

Another Vermeer is based on a true character, Han Van Meegeren, a studious art forger, whose mentor, Bartus Korteling (Dan Cordle), suggests he practice his craft by copying the masters. The Dutch Van Meegeren (Austin Pendleton) forges art so well, choosing Vermeer as the vehicle for his fortune, that he sells his forged works for large sums, feeding his drug and absinthe habits and purchasing real estate and antiques along the way. When Van Meegeren sells a forged Vermeer, thought to be a valued treasure of Holland, “Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus”, to Nazi, Hermann Göring, Van Meegeren is charged with treason and faces the death sentence, if he does not prove that he, not Vermeer, painted that particular work. His only escape from death would be to replicate that forgery, while imprisoned, to the exact likeness of the Göring purchase.

Van Meegeren persuades his prison guard, Bram Van Ter Horst (Justin Grace), who has a Christ-like figure, to serve as his paid model. Ghost-like visitors arrive and disappear: Jan Vermeer himself (Dan Cordle again), Bartus Korteling, and Dr. Abraham Bredius (Thom Christopher), the Dutch art critic, who ruined Van Meegeren’s reputation with heated criticism of the striving artists’ works. Ironically, Bredius had subsequently praised one of Van Meegeren’s forgeries as one of Vermeer’s finest oeuvres. Upon learning of his mistake, while on a ghostly visit to Van Meegeren, sparks fly between these two ego-driven esthetes. Speaking of sparks, Pendleton, as Van Meegeren, is in a constant state of shrill shouting, sick shaking, or cocaine snorting, a human firecracker.

Rounding out the cast is Christian Pedersen, as Lt. Thomas Keller, the American Lieutenant over Van Meegeren’s case. Pedersen exudes edge, while Thom Christopher, as the ghostly critic, exudes class and a haunting sense of self-absorption. As a result of the endless and seamless tension, perhaps Bruce J. Robinson’s almost two-hour play, with no intermission, in the tiny Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, would be a better one-hour play, minus the many pauses, extraneous dialogues, and shrill rants. Synthesizing the story line and tightening the interactions would highlight Pendleton’s serious talent, as well as the roles of the real and ghost-like characters. Interest would be riveted, rather than lost, in this loosely formed production. There is vast potential here.

Austin Pendleton, Thom Christopher, Justin Grace
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Austin Pendleton
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Austin Pendleton and Christian Pedersen
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Austin Pendleton and Dan Cordle
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Justin Grace and Austin Pendleton
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Dan Cordle and Austin Pendleton
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at