**** 4 Stars
“A Comedy Acting Masterclass”
A quarter of a century since its debut and 23 years since it came to prominence in London’s Wyndham’s Theatre staring the recently departed Albert Finney Yazmina Reza’s story as adapted into the English language by Christopher Hampton returns on a UK tour starring the sublime trio of Nigel Havers (Serge), Denis Lawson (Marc) and Stephen Tompkinson (Yvan)
The comedy, which raises questions about art and friendship, concerns three long-time friends, Serge, Marc, and Yvan. Serge, indulging his penchant for modern art, buys a large, expensive, completely white painting for £200,00 Marc is horrified referring to it as “Shit” and their relationship suffers considerable strain as a result of their differing opinions about what constitutes “art”. Yvan, caught in the middle of the conflict, tries to please and mollify both of them. This is story not so much about Art and its values but friendship what bonds us through life’s journey.
The play has been a critical success for many theatre companies over the proceeding 25 years including its first Scottish production at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in April 2003 starring King’s legend Andy Gray, Forbes Masson and James Macpherson. This 2019 touring production revives the Old Vic Original directed by Matthew Warchus and sharpened and retooled by current director Ellie Jones.
The production lies totally on the shoulders of the three actors cast in the roles and combined Havers, Lawson and Tompkinson give a Comedy acting masterclass that won’t be topped. The snappy pacing of this 1 act play ensures the audience is swept along. The only criticism that can be levelled is sometimes they need to let the laughter settle before moving on to more dialog as many of the starting lines become clipped and inaudible.
ART occupies a unique place in the pantheon of theatre driven by its success and life span and the plethora of Acting talent that has inhibited the roles of the last twenty-five years, the current trio are exceptional as one would expect from talent of there calibre and truly make an evening at the theatre a real pleasure.
ART also holds a mirror to our own lives and friendships we surely all see just a little of ourselves and our own friends in the characters we see on stage, we are human, we are fallible, we cry and laugh and this play unlike others allows us to see beyond the blurring of the lines and or that its well worth grabbing a ticket and getting along to the King’s.
David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers present the Old Vic Production of “ART”, King’s Theatre Edinburgh until Saturday 16th February, UK tour continues Including Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre 25th – 30th March. For tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/art