by Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Stephan Golux
Return to Main Portfolio Page
From the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Thursday, July 17, 2003
What is art?
Play dissects notions of art, intellectualism
By JACK FELIX
MILL HALL -- A long-time friendship is strained to the breaking point in "Art," a serio-comedy playing at the Millbrook Playhouse's cabaret.
Yasmina Reza's "Art" has a supposedly simple premise that becomes complicated when three friends living in Paris start discussing and dissecting a newly acquired painting.
When Serge shows Marc the painting -- the background is white with white diagonal lines in the foreground -- Marc dismisses the expensive purchase. Serge is indignant and defensive and the battle lines are drawn as a third buddy is summoned to mediate the frayed nerves and strained relationship.
"Art" stimulates and entertains as the three friends use a canvas to address their concerns about each other's successes and shortcomings.
Directed by Stephan Golux, Millbrook's "Art" crackles with distinctly drawn characters whose banter and barbs bring plenty of laughs. Craig Bentley plays Marc, who cynically dubs the painting a joke and wonders aloud how Serge (Corey Patrick) could foolishly spend 200,000 francs for something that he can't even hate because it's invisible.
Serge turns to Yvan to mediate although both Serge and Marc look upon their friend as a "flabby amoeba." After Yvan initially tells Serge privately that he likes the painting, a three-way verbal tussle erupts.
Matthew Lawler is Yvan, the plays' most animated character, especially when he gives a long, loud whining on his own domestic woes as a would-be groom, resulting in a round of applause.
When the argument becomes too personal, Serge hands a blue felt tip pen to Marc as the depth of the friendship is tested with a dare.
"Art," played without intermission, alternates among Serge's, Yvan's and Marc's flats. No furniture but a couple of bar stools and a multi-purpose bar comprise the furnishings. Each character hangs and removes his own painting to denote each of their flats, a device initially which is confusing.
Nothing may be completely black or white -- except of course the painting -- but the cabaret's ceiling is painted white (looking like a baseball home plate) with three black columns adding a stylish look.
With solid acting from the three-man cast and Reza's award-winning script, "Art" is a pleasure to behold. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then mabe art is likewise. Millbrook's cabaret is a good "gallery" to see "Art."