Reviewed by Louise Edwards
The multi-awarding winning Old Vic Production of ART, produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers, written by Yasmina Reza and directed by Ellie Jones is currently at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal as part of a national tour.
It tells the story of three friends; Mark, Serge and Yvan. The comedy starts with straight-talking engineer Mark, (played by Dennis Lawson) at home telling us about Serge, who has just bought a painting.
The set is simple with clever use of lighting and artworks transforming between each character’s home.
He heads round to meet retired dermatologist Serge (played by Nigel Haver) who is excited to show off his new purchase.
Mark, however, cannot hold in his disdain for the piece, which to him is basically a blank canvas! He is doubly horrified to learn that Serge has paid £200,000 for it!
Mark, still shocked that Serge has paid such a lot of money for what he perceives to be nothing, visits the third cog in the wheel, laid back Yvan (played by Stephen Tompkinson), who finds himself caught between his two friends as they lock horns. Yvan has his own plate full with a forthcoming wedding and related family dilemmas to work through.
We witness the crumbling of friendships and a shift in dynamics between the three characters as the painting exposes itself as a catalyst to voice negative undercurrents in their relationships as unspoken irritations are aired.
Emotions run high and language is strong, but all delivered with brilliant timing and light-hearted quips. It is 20 years since ART first hit the stage and as attitudes to modern art have changed the subject of the play, the painting itself, is less important than the attitudes and behaviours between the characters.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions about life and modern art and luckily our trio realise that friendships are more important than a slight difference of opinion.
This show is an acting tour de force, with all three leads on top of their game and providing an acting masterclass.
The production runs for 90 minutes with no interval, thus building up the tension and allowing the story to flow. It provides an enjoyable evening’s entertainment with plenty of laughs and thought-provoking content.
The Theatre Royal in Nottingham is located in the city centre with good transport links and a varied choice of restaurants close by.
Tickets cost from £16.50 to £34.50 (booking fees may apply).
ART is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 30 April to 5 May 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND