Like any form of art, modern art has both its enthusiasts and its detractors.
This disagreement is the starting point of Yasmina Reza’s comedy, “Art.” Playing at the Walnut Street Theatre through March 3, it is the story of three friends whose disagreement over a painting leads to an examination of their lives as they enter middle age.
The play begins at the apartment of one of the friends, Serge. He has bought a painting for 200,000 francs that consists of a canvas painted white, with white diagonal lines crossing it.
His friend Marc hates the painting and uses colorful language to tell Serge exactly how he feels. Yvan, the third member of the trio, is indecisive and tries to bring peace between the two friends. Over the course of the next week, the three argue with and insult each other, while discussing where their lives have led them.
“Art” has both its hilarious and its dull moments, with the best laughs coming after the scenes that dragged on a bit too long. The set has a starry background, creating an almost surreal scene for the events that take place in front of it. One set represents all three of the friend’s apartments; each distinguished with its own distinct lighting
Though small, the cast of “Art” did an excellent job filling each scene. The large stage at the theatre could have dwarfed so few characters, but it never seemed devoid of action.
As Yvan, Ben Lipitz plays a character who is both a goofball and a man serious about settling down with a new job and wife. Lipitz gave a hilarious performance, providing many of the show’s laughs. Robert Ari plays the role of Marc, a cynical man who can’t seem to accept that his friend Serge may indulge in tastes that he cannot stand. Serge, played by Carl Shurr, styles himself as an intellectual who tries to rise above Marc’s sometimes less than intelligent commentary.
This play could be seen as a commentary on the lives of upper class professionals whose problems consist of where to go out to eat and why their friends would spend 200,000 francs on a white painting. Ultimately though, “Art” is a theatrical sitcom. The dialogue is rife with profanity, while lacking any serious content. Despite this, the three actors do a wonderful job with their characters, saving what could be a tedious show and making it into a fine production.