Review: Locked In, theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall (Venue 53)

Keith Vaughan’s star shines nowhere near as bright as his artistic contemporaries Francis Bacon and David Hockney, but Peter Scott-Presland’s delicate and contained character study illustrates, through a performance of Vaughan’s diary entries from the years 1939 until his death in 1977, an artist who was as skilled a literary chronicler of difficult times and personal milestones as he was a painter.

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This text would be a gift for most actors, but Scott-Presland infuses them with a particular tenderness and the real sense that the artist savoured the experience of life.

Even when he describes the horror of days spent as a medic during the Second World War – a handy way for a conscientious objector to escape sanction – or his mistaken arrest as a fifth columnist for accidentally painting a landscape which featured a tank trap in its midst in Guildford, there’s poetry and even humour in his manner; the hearing about the landscape, he jokes, was the first public display of his work. After the war he chronicles journeys in Paris, that “sentimental debauch”, in Mexico and New York and Marrakech. His affairs with young men are sentimentally relayed, his dismay at the rise of Pop Art summed up with a bitter “it seems that all that really mattered was toffee wrappers and liquorice allsorts”, and finally, the tragedy of his death is sensitively staged.

Until 25 August. Today 12:50pm.