By Jessica Kennedy.
“Art helps us see connections, and brings a more coherent meaning to our world.” E. Boyer’s words became flesh on the Theatre Three stage this past Saturday, January 12th as the curtain opened for Yasmina Reza’s one act drama, Art. Translated by Christopher Hampton and directed by Linda May, this 75 minute performance delivered many laugh worthy moments, as well as ample musings on the value and merit of both art and relationships.
The play opens as Serge (Steve Ayle) is proudly showing off a piece of pricey art he has purchased to his longtime friend, Marc (Antoine Jones). Marc is immediately offended by the lack of actual artistry in his friend’s painting, so he quickly attacks it -and his friend in the process. Mutual friend Yvan (Matt Senese) is ambivalent about the painting, as he is about most things in life, and the conflict these friends must battle through forces them to evaluate themselves as individuals, as well as valued people in each others’ lives.
The lighting for this show is simple- a bare spotlight from time to time draws our focus to one of the actors. Likewise, the set is quite bare- some bland, beige furniture is placed in a seemingly uninspired layout, and is meant to represent the homes of Serge and Yvan. But do not be fooled. These sparse elements, no doubt carefully planned by lighting designer Robert. W. Henderson, Jr. and scenic designer Randall Parsons, provide the perfect backdrop for a story about a white canvas, and all the colorful conversation it inspires. There are only three actors in this play, but their presence on the stage is formidable. Steve Ayle as Serge delivers an impressive performance. His character, a novice art enthusiast who balks at anyone who does not perceive and cherish beauty as he does, is portrayed as a layered man- one who gradually comes to understand the true and transformative power of real art, but does not quite know what to do with this revelation. Antoine Jones as Marc, likewise, delivers a profound performance of a complex and sardonic man; a man who must come to terms with what his treatment of Serge’s purchase really says not only about his friend, but about himself. Then there is Matt Senese’s portrayal of Yvan, which was equally comedic and heart-rending. Senese builds dimension and depth in a character who has been torn down and pulverized by his life-long attempts to mollify all those around him at the price of never pursuing his own interests or passions. The characters in this play may be at odds, but the actors perform as though they actually have been friends for fifteen years. The play is funny, yet provoking. Comedic and incendiary. This play will undoubtedly entertain you, and Serge’s white masterpiece will leave you contemplating its true value long after the final curtain.