An amusing and often disturbing take on the fragility of friendship

By The Columbia Chronicle

Marnie Schipper

Staff Writer

Friendship can be fleeting, and like a love affair it can become strained over time and need re-evaluation.

“Art,” Yasmina Reza’s Tony award-winning play, now on stage at the Royal George Theatre, illustrates just how easily the bonds of friendship can unravel over seemingly insignificant acts.

For Marc (Colin Stinton), Serge (Michael Gross) and Yvan (Zach Grenier), a stark white painting seems to be the catalyst for the demise of their 15 year friendship.

Set in Paris, the play begins when Serge, a successful dermatologist and novice modern art aficionado, purchases a painted white canvas for 200,000 francs (about $40,000). When he invites his best friend, Marc, over to his apartment to view his new treasure, all hell breaks loose.

Marc, unable to comprehend how his good friend could purchase such a painting, thinks it’s a joke. When he discovers otherwise, he insults the painting and, in turn, Serge. The men then seek the opinion of their mutual friend, Yvan, who has problems of his own with an impending marriage and a lackluster job. Yvan doesn’t want to take sides, so he tells both men what he thinks they want to hear with disastrous results.

“Art” is touted as a comedy and it does have some funny moments, including a wonderful monologue from Yvan that leaves the audience rolling on the floor. Yet through the humor, you can’t help feeling an underlying current of sadness. Watching these men bicker and insult one another begs the question of what kind of friendship the three ever truly shared.

“Art” is a well-written and entertaining 90 minute showcase of Reza’s intelligent and witty dialogue. The three actors compliment one another with monologues that are perfectly timed to Gary Yershon’s music and Hugh Vanstone’s lighting. Mark Thompson’s set design consisting of a coffee table and three distinct chairs, helps the audience focus on the actors as they posture throughout the dialogue.

With tickets ranging from $45-49.50, “Art” could be a bit pricey for a student’s budget. If you have a limited theater budget that affords only a few shows a year, I’d pass on Art.