Art debuted in 1994 and immediately disguised itself as a witty and sophisticated comedy about art and the upper middle class. It has a Waiting For Godot quality as three friends circuitously argue about what constitutes art and the meaning of friendship.
The plot of this urbane comedy comes when Serge (Hiro Kanagawa) buys an impressionistic piece of art for 200,000 francs, that is basically white stripes on a white background or, as Marc (Michael Kopsa) describes it, “a white piece of shit”. It escalates when the amicable and soon to be married Yvan (Haig Sutherland) tries to side with both.
There are witty character lines: “The older I get the more offensive I hope to become” and “his place is so monastic” and Mr. Sutherland nails the infamous six page monologue.
The one act play is stylish and charming and the actors are all brilliantly classy. On opening night it did take a while for things to get going as the stakes were low and the casual air of the idle upper middle class made it hard to care about their squabbles. As it progressed though, the fun started to grow and by the end of the evening it was satisfyingly realized.
The grand upscale austere set by Drew Facey is dynamic with sliding panels revealing artwork to indicate location. There is a sense of theatricality as Troy Slocum often accompanies John Webber’s lighting with a subtle sound. Barbara Clayden designed the upper class casuals that that the men wear.
Art is a fun night out with some snobbish and pretentious fellows who you genuinely like and glad to be at the party. It’s not life changing, but it is grandly enjoyable.
By Yasmina Reza. Translated by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Stephen Drover. A Richmond Gateway Theatre production. On stage at Richmond Gateway Theatre through February 22, 2014. Visit http://www.gatewaytheatre.com for tickets and information.