On the surface, Yasmina Reza‘s “Art“ seems as simple as the canvas that serves as the plot’s launching pad. The 90-minute piece begins when Serge, a fellow who has just spent a ridiculous, obscene amount of money on a highly debatable piece of art: an all-white painting that, under just the right light, reveals a few white diagonal brush strokes in the foreground.
When Serge shows friends Marc and Yvan, the 4-by-5 foot painting becomes the catalyst for a war of words that shakes the threesome’s decades-deep friendship. Each man is forced to examine more than a few painful truths about his character, his relationships and the compromises he’s made along the sad, inevitable march from youth to middle age.
Directed by Richard H. Pegg, Miners Alley Playhouse’sÂ production ofÂ “Art” crackles with distinctly drawn characters whose banter and barbs bring plenty of laughs. â€œItâ€™s a play about the relationship between three men and itâ€™s written by a woman so there is this incredible insight that a woman has brought.â€
Chris Kendall plays Serge, the man who calls it a modern masterpiece. Kendallâ€™s portrayal is smart, well thought out and organic. â€œI like to learn my lines as soon as possible because it frees me up to explore. I start with the basics, I learn my lines and get the blocking and then I discover the rest step by step,â€ says Kendall.
Jim Hunt, who previously played the role of Serge in the Curious Theatre Company production of “Art”, now takes on the role of Marc, who cynically dubs the painting a joke and wonders aloud how Serge (Kendall) could foolishly spend 200,000 euro for something that he can’t even hate because it’s invisible. Hunt â€œTo get to explore the same play from two different perspectives has just been a hoot,â€ says Hunt.
Rounding out the cast is Josh Hartwell, who plays 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. â€œIâ€™m very similar to the character, especially when I was younger. These guys beat him up a lot both verbally and emotionally but I think he sets himself up for it,â€ says Hartwell.
“Art” alternates among Serge’s, Marc’s and Yvanâ€™s flats. No furniture but a couple of stylish black stools and a sleek black coffee table. Each character hangs and removes subtle objects in the room to denote each of their flats; a device which is initially might be confusing but quickly understood.
“Art” runs now through October 24. See for yourself what all the fuss is about and then you can decideâ€¦what would you do if someone you know bought a 4-by-5 foot all white painting?
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Miners Alley Playhouse
1224 Washington Avenue, STE 200
Golden, CO 80401