Tuesday, 10 January 2017

FOUR STAR REVIEW - Art at the Old Vic

WHAT would you do if your best friend bought something that you thought not only cost too much money but you didn’t like either? That’s the dilemma for Marc and Yvan in Yasmina Reza’s play Art. Currently being revived at the Old Vic the play features three friends, all men, who come to blows over the purchase of a painting. 
Serge, played by Rufus Sewel has bought the canvas - it’s all white, with white lines on it and by an artist who is not that well known - and he’s paid thousands for it. He’s ridiculously happy about the purchase and proudly shows it off to best mate Marc played by Paul Ritter.
However, much to Serge’s annoyance and astonishment, Marc is appalled at the idea and tells him so. This as you can imagine does not go down so well and especially when Marc brings in Yvan, played by Tim Key, to back him up.
Over the course of the piece, there is a tussle of verbal sparring between them all which exposes old wounds and the reality of their friendship with one another.
At times it is incredibly hostile but at others there is a real camaraderie and it’s laugh out loud funny. But its brilliance lies in the characterisation and the language the three men use to argue their cases of what constitutes art and friendship.
It is of course a study of the art of human relationships rather than art itself, and the absurdity of it all is played out in a fabulous scene in which Yvan barely pauses for breath in a rant about his soon to be wife and her parents - it was utterly hilarious and by the time he’d finished his face was the colour of a tomato.
The three actors are superb, the staging is simple but effective and it is directed brilliantly by artistic director Matthew Warchus.

Art is on at the Old Vic, The Cut, Waterloo, until Saturday, February 18. Tickets from £12. Visit www.oldvictheatre.com or call the box office on 0844 871 7628.

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