Reviewed by on    Arts News, Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Photo: McGihon /Postmedia Pierre Brault.

 Coming to the Gladstone in May,  2017  WATCH for it!!
A piece of relentless theatre history rejuvenated by the  Gladstone..
Artist, fraud, chameleon, victim.  Elmyr de Hory was all of these, and arguably the most notorious, successful and prolific art forger of the twentieth century.  Never fully recognized as an artist in his own right, and eternally frustrated by this fact, de Hory turned to painting in the style of his contemporaries, including Matisse, Picasso and Modigliani, and passing off the results as originals with astonishing success.  After decades spent toiling in anonymity, Elmyr de Hory, at once the swindler and the swindled, finally reveals his own private truth as told by playwright and actor Pierre Brault.

 In his own incomparable style, Brault crafts myriad characters, from Orson Welles and Zsa Zsa Gabor to de Hory himself and the artists whose work he forged, to tell a fascinating story that explores the very nature of art and identity.

Portrait of an Unidentified Man premiered in Ottawa in February, 2005 as part of the National Arts Centre English Theatre subscription season.  It was subsequently revived at the NAC in July, 2005 due to popular demand.  The following year the production toured to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, London’s Grand Theatre, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in St. John’s, NL. and a New Zealand tour in 2009.
Read some of the reviews of that period even if the shows are off the air…


“A play of marvelous question marks. A one-act, 80 minute marvel, Portrait of an Unidentified Man is the must-see production of the Ottawa theatre season. … I know it’s only February, but this is really the performance of the year. Brault is simply astonishing.”
Tom McSorley, CBC Radio “All in a Day” Listen to full review.
“A theatrical feat from every point of view… The great artistry of both Pierre Brault and Martin Conboy has created something quite new and exciting in Canadian theatre.  Brault has great maturity and enormous gifts as an actor.”
Alvina Ruprecht, CBC Radio “Ottawa Morning” Listen to full review.
“Brault’s portrait of de Hory paints a creature of complex beauty… his writing is profound and his performance electric. … not for a moment does Portrait of an Unidentified Man fail to resonate…. Accept no substitutes.”
Peter Birnie, The Vancouver Sun
Portrait of an Unidentified Man is immediately relevant, bitingly funny and so well written and acted it is not hard to side with the criminal de Hory who loots the souls of artists.”
Jamie Hanton, The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand)

“In the vastly entertaining Portrait of an Unidentified Man, Ottawa writer and actor Pierre Brault assumes the identity of Elmyr de Hory, the 20th century’s most successful art fraud. Brault is fabulous as the charming, conflicted de Hory, whose fake Picassos and Modiglianis hung in galleries around the world. Funny, involving, sad and thought-provoking… [featuring] Brault¹s undeniable stage presence and fine writing, Brian Quirt¹s sure direction and Martin Conboy¹s masterful lighting effects…”
Catherine Lawson, The Ottawa Citizen
“A gorgeous, constantly evolving work of art…. Creator and performer Pierre Brault weaves a compelling, stunningly visual story that leads us to consider not just the life of Elmyr de Hory but also the authenticity of self.”
Jo Ledingham, The Vancouver Courier
“A gripping study of morals, survival and fame… Brault plays de Hory’s flamboyance and innate shyness to perfection… [his] script offers a tempting treatise on the nature of truth.”
Steven Schelling, The Westender
“My favourite show of the entire festival… a brilliant script and brilliant, brilliant performance.”
Chris Drizzik, CBC Radio, St. John’s, NL (Magnetic North Theatre Festival)
“Pierre Brault is by turns charming, mischievous, bombastic, amusing, earnest, touching . . . I’ve run out of adjectives. He clearly delineates each character while never losing the spine of Elmyr, around whom the action revolves.”
Rating: 5 out of 5
Connie Meng, North Country Public Radio