What is Art and how do we judge its value? This concept is a blank canvas, pun intended, deftly adorned with humour and perception by playwright Yasmina Reza and skilfully brought to life at Holden Street by Verendus Theatrical.
Art lover Charlotte has just paid a fortune for a five-by-four-foot painting that consists of a white background with white lines. Her old Friend Marcia laughs and tells her the painting is “s—t.” Their mutual friend Yvette neither likes nor hates the painting and won’t fully commit to either side instead more focussed on the stresses of her upcoming wedding.
Originally written in French, with three men as the characters, Reza’s “Art” is a witty
insightful play more about friendship, selfishness, love, and human relationships than about the value, intrinsic or financial, of a painting. Director Tim Williams has chosen to use women in this production, and with minor changes to the script and the quality of the performances, loses nothing in doing so.
Tracey Walker perfectly captures the opinionated Marcia, whose overpowering persona frequently slips revealing insecurities and neurotic feelings. Alicia Zorkovic portrays the somewhat snobbish Charlotte with an air of superiority and mannerisms that reveal the contempt she has for those she perceives as less culturally educated than herself. Lyn Wilson is hysterical as Yvette, stealing scenes with her fence-sitting as tensions escalate. Her frenetic monologue over frustrations regarding her upcoming nuptials is a highlight.
The set is simple and represents the homes of the three protagonists which leaves all
the attention on the performances and delightfully comic dialogue. Lighting is used to good effect to spotlight the actors as they intermittently break the fourth wall and share their true feelings with the audience.
This play has universal themes, as the characters question the foundation of their 15
year friendship and we find ourselves examining just how honest we are, or should be, in our own relationships. It also makes us stop and think about the pretentious excesses in the world of art. But most of all in makes us laugh… a lot!
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