Art is a modern comedy that examines the nature of modern art and modern friendship. The English script is an adaptation of a French play, and examines the friendship between three men when one of them pays an exorbitant amount for a white-on-white painting by a fashionable modern artist. This serves as a catalyst for the three friends to examine their friendship.
The Script by Yasmin Reza Sets Forth Uphill Battle for Any Company
HE SAID: This material is tricky because it is incredibly verbose dialogue that, at times, falls victim to its own premise. A large part of the show is about three guys intellectualizing art to the point where they accuse each other of “losing their sense of humor”. In doing so, the play itself sometimes loses its sense of comedy to long over-thought ideas. For me, it isn’t until the play moves on from that idea and into the questions regarding the meaning of friendship that the play becomes relatable, sincere, and truly funny.
SHE SAID: I found the writing to be enjoyable and somewhat engaging, but not always gripping. I actually thought that the mix of comedy and intellectualism compromised the intellectual discussion by always keeping it at a level where comedy was accessible. I do completely agree that the focus on the friendship between the three men made it more personal in a rare and enjoyable way.
Hartwell, Kendall, and Hunt Ultimately Rise Above Challenging Script
HE SAID: All three men in this show are clearly terrific actors, each of whom really succeeded in handling a very challenging script. The pace of the first act was hindered a bit by some of the silent action taking a bit too long or some lines that could have been come in sooner. However, the performers seemed to step into a terrific rhythm with each other in the second act letting the material flow more fluidly and we really got to see the mastery of these three shine.
SHE SAID: I agree that all three actors (Josh Hartwell, Chris Kendall, and Jim Hunt) achieved a very high level of performance, but I was especially impressed with Hartwell as Yvan. I thought that he was believably neurotic without going out of his way to demonstrate his anxiety to the audience.
Creative Staging Adds Its Own Set of Laughs
HE SAID: I found the staging by Director Richard H. Pegg to be quite clever. There were a number of almost farcical entrances and exits that happened right on top of each other, and there was endless fun and creativity in how the three men positioned themselves on the small bench. At one point, they subtly entered the three monkey position of “hear no, see no, speak no evil”. It was brilliantly set up and fluidly executed so that it was a surprise.
SHE SAID: I agree that several aspects of the staging were quite inventive and really added to the story. I also thought that all of the design elements were quite successful. The set was simple and upscale, reflecting the modern aesthetic that is discussed in the piece. There were several striking and effective lighting effects that added a lot of variation to the set.
The Play Really Begins in the Second Act and Sores from There
THEY SAID: As audience members, we both agree that the discussion about the painting served the same purpose in life as it did for the characters in the play. It was a surface argument and once we got to the heart of the real conflict in the second act, the play really began to take us in. The actors and direction succeed in tackling a challenging script, and we left discussing the finer points of art and friendship – the very questions in the show. It’s certainly a thought-provoking and pleasant night out.
For more information about the play, please see the wikipedia synopsis. ART plays until October 24 at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. For tickets and more information, click the banner below.