Art is The Dignity Players latest production now on display at The Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis. Originally a French play by Yasmina Reza, it premiered October 28, 1994 and won a Tony for Best Play. Darice Clewell directs the Dignity Players’ production.
Art is a melodic odyssey of repartee that occurs among three friends: Serge (Kevin Wallace), Marc (Tom Newbrough), and Yvan (James Gallagher) as they respond to Serge’s extravagant purchase of a “white” painting. Like the 1993 to 2004 television show, “Frasier,” with the bold dialogue, Art is intense and triggers copious amount of existential questions as these men try to figure out their friendship while questioning their own mid-life existence.
Very believable, very intense, and very real.
Kevin Wallace as Serge has a knack for modern art and Wallace portrays Serge in a manner that is very upper crust with a hint of snobbery. Though not distinctly noted, Serge has arrived. However, by reaching this austere level in society, he seems willing to sacrifice his friendships with Marc and Yvan. In the one scene, Serge imitates Marc’s wife in a very cruel manner while Yvan looks on with contempt and that is how Yvan is, always looking on.
James Gallagher portrays Yvan as a coward. Caught in the middle between Marc and Serge, he tells Serge he likes the painting, but behind his back he swaps quips with Marc. Gallagher plays Yvan very high strung and close to the edge as his doomed wedding date nears. His delivery of the “wedding invitation” soliloquy is brilliant both physically and emotionally as he literally teeters on the edge of the stage.
Also on edge is Marc, played by Tom Newbrough. Marc, on the other hand is not afraid to openly express his outrage with Serge over the purchase of the white painting. “It is white s**t!” Throughout, Newbough’s character tries to rationalize the irrational concept of white lines on a white canvas.
It is a unique experience to witness the dynamics of these characters as they touch on varying subjects that include the question, “What is art?” It’s captivating to witness the varying opinions while these men realize their fifteen-year friendship is falling apart. Marc even questions why are they still friends. What is their commonality? Yet Serge’s gesture, when he hands Marc a marker and tells him to draw on the painting, there is a shift that proves friendship does supercede everything else.
The action mostly takes place in Serge’s apartment. The set is a series of solid screens with varying shades of beiges and muted green squares. The living room furniture is comprised of muted tones as well. There is a black easel upstage that is used to display various paintings throughout the production. Yet, what is quite attention grabbing about the white painting itself is that Serge has not selected a place to hang it. As Serge moves the painting around the set, in many ways it becomes the forth character that changes with lighting and placement, and changes these men as well.
Art is an intellectual exploration of the meaning of art as well as the meaning of friendship, wrapped in remarkable dialogue that is both rational and irrational. These characters are dynamic on so many different levels and so are the actors. Kevin Wallace, Tom Newbrough, and James Gallagher have such outstanding chemistry together that they really are Serge, Marc and Yvan. Very believable, very intense, and very real.
The Production staff includes: Pat Browning (props), Jeannie Christie (costumes), Jeanie Micher (Stage Manager), Laurie Nolan (Set Design & Construction), Shirley Panek (Lighting Designer) and Jim Reiter (Sound Design).
Running Time: 1-1/2 hours and no intermission.
Advisory: Some strong language.
Art is running through September 28, 2013 at Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, 333 Dubois Road. Tickets can be purchased online at www.dignityplayers.org or by calling (410) 266-8044, ext. 127.