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Capsule review: 'Vincent John Doe' opens speculative window on insanity, art and identity

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What would happen if Vincent Van Gogh showed up in New York City today? That’s the pretext for the play “Vincent John Doe,” which just completed a three-day Piccolo Spoleto Festival run at the City Gallery.

Charleston painter and actor Robert Maniscalco plays Van Gogh Vincent John Doe) in the Big Apple. His character is arrested and assumed to be mentally ill. He meets with therapists and fellow patients who challenge the definition of “the crazy artist.”

After escaping the hospital, he exploits the contemporary commercial art market by painting — Maniscalco creates two works during the show, accompanied by music (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata) performed by his brother James Maniscalco.

“Where is home?” Vincent John Doe is asking.

Blurring the boundaries of theater, music and visual art, the play, written by Robert Maniscalco, transforms abstract philosophical ideas into a visual experience that explores artistic temperament and commercialization.

Reviewer Chunzi Shi is a Goldring Arts Journalist at Syracuse University.

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