Sotheby’s and Christie’s may have cornered the real-world market for bitchiness and backstabbing in the name of art, but in The Most Deserving, Catherine Trieschmann’s newest play, produced by Women’s Project Theater, the fictional champion lies in a small Kansas town, where the B.S. that flies among the members of the local arts council is more hilarious than anything those high-falutin’ auction houses ever crossed gavels over.
The title refers to the dilemma facing the council, which must award a $20,000 grant to a local artist of some merit. Shelley Butler smartly directs this snappy Dallas-meets-Topeka story, with outsider art, not oil, as the impetus for a power-grabbing melée that builds as unstoppably as a Midwestern tornado. The excellent cast is led by a terrific female trio: Veanne Cox as the prudish, relentlessly self-serving council president; Kristin Griffith, devastating as its straight-shooting suburban patron in pink chiffon; and Jennifer Lim as an ambitious college lecturer with a plan for getting the hell out of Dodge.
Ultimately, it’s the professor’s flawed defense of a self-taught genius that sends a more serious salvo into this heartland culture war. In The Most Deserving, art finally trumps egos, but as befits such an infamously inflated market, the ride is priceless.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 9, 2014