Doom With a View: In his attic hideaway, Perugia awaits the inevitable after stealing the Mona Lisa.

A lot of smart people think a big reason why the 500-year-old Mona Lisa remains recognizable to the philistines of today is because in 1911, somebody stole it. This was, to put it mildly, news: France sealed its borders, the Louvre was closed for nine days, and Parisian detectives employed the then-novel technique of fingerprinting to identify suspects. But this was no precision-timed, quip-happy heist executed by George Clooney and Brad Pitt and set to a cocktail-hour score. Vincenzo Perugia, the Italian laborer who eventually confessed to the crime, simply lifted Da Vinci’s painting off the wall and carried it back to his apartment. Only when Perugia met the director of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery more than two years later to discuss selling the painting was he brought to justice. At the trial, Perugia swore his sole motive was to return the painting to its homeland, believing it (wrongly) to have been plundered by Napoleon. Theater Alliance follows up last month’s world premiere of Victor Lodato’s The Bread of Winter with a one-man restaging of his 2002 The Woman Who Amuses Herself. The title is one translation of La Gioconda, another title for the painting. And for as long as the narrative remains inside the frayed psyche of Perugia, as he paces his attic hovel (and, later, his jail cell) in the days and years following the grandest of larcenies, it remains a charming, mournful, sharply-observed whydunnit with a bravura performance by the versatile and convincing Nigel Reed at its center. The stew thins, regrettably, when Lodato stirs in nine other characters of variable interest. Genius prankster Marcel Duchamp, famously defacing a reproduction of the Mona to honor the hotness of Lisa’s caboose? Splendid! British reporter Larry Worthington Buckles, recounting the painting’s 1913 tour of Italy preceding its return to the Louvre? Funny! Perugia’s heartbroken mom? Haunting. New Jersey third-grader Kevin Lessler, talking about his Mona Lisa beach towel? Er, why? It’s fun to watch Reed play a frustrated schoolmarm trying to give her students an inkling of the painting’s enigmatic majesty, but the fact that we’ve all shown up is evidence enough of its generational reach. While the dexterity with which Reed executes these character shifts is impressive, the problem remains that only Duchamp is as funny, and none are as tragic, as Perugia the Liberator. Cutting the grade-school scenes (with the possible exception of a creepy late-show evocation of one young student’s dream about the painting) and slimming this 105-minute one-hander to an 80-minute one-act would likely yield a more substantial meditation on obsession, one worthy of the mysterious lady to which it pays tribute.