We know what we like
By Myron My
How many times do we see a movie with a friend and we love it and they hate it? Or we go to a museum and are taken in by a piece of art but our friend thinks it’s rubbish. Generally we put it down to a simple difference of opinion, but not in Art.
Produced by Blue Cow Theatre, Art is a French language play by Yasmina Reza and translated here by Christopher Hampton, and aesthetic conflict is at the heart of this comic yet dramatic play.
Serge (Jeff Michel) has bought a painting: a very expensive painting. A painting that is completely white. He loves it but one of his best friends Marc (Robert Jarman) thinks it is awful– to put it mildly – and can’t move on from this. Yvan (John Xintavelonis) is stuck in the middle of this argument trying to pacify the two, but eventually gets embroiled in their fight.
Michel, Jarman and Xintavelonis are perfectly cast in their roles. Their rapport and the strength with which they take on their respective characters was imperative for the success of a play such as this, as it relies so heavily on an emotional response from the audience.
I was particularly impressed with Xintavelonis’ nuanced performance as Yvan, especially in the excellent scene when he’s explaining why he is late for dinner.
The play uses a mixture of monologues, duologues and then ultimately a group scene to tell the story. As an audience member, your state of mind is constantly fluctuating between feeling like an uninvited voyeur to being made the privileged listener in a confessional.
This unease keeps you intensely engaged and wondering what is going to be revealed next and how the characters’ personal thoughts will compare and contrast to their conversations with each other .
Art looks at the fragility of friendship and how vulnerable we can become by letting people in. With a lovely blend of comedy and drama, this play explores the value of friendship, through the issues of art, personal opinion and aesthetic appeal and the importance we place on them.
This production was performed at GasWorks Arts Park on August 1st to 3rd 2013.