Art – 2019

Friendship and Opinion

Art, currently on stage at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, could simply be a play about art appreciation.  But in fact, it’s a play about disagreements among friends.  Must a difference of opinion mean the end of a friendship?  In today’s Trump era, it seems as if friendships come to an end if there is a political or religious disagreement.  So this 1994 play is probably more significant than ever.  But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how can any of us argue about the beauty of art?

Serge buys a painting by a popular, trendy artist.  It is a large, pure white painting on a white canvas.  There are some barely visible white diagonal lines on the white background.  Serge’s friend Marc comes to visit and when he learns that Serge paid $200,000 for the painting, he says it’s “shit”.  Naturally, this results in an argument and some strained feelings. 

Both Serge and Marc visit their third friend, Yvan, on separate occasions to complain about the other’s lack of understanding.  Finally all three get together and arguments go in circles.  I can’t reveal what becomes of the friendships or the painting for fear of spoiling the ending.  However, there is a surprise which causes audience members to gasp out loud.

The story should make us more tolerant of our friends’ various opinions.  When you enjoy someone’s company, shouldn’t you be able to overlook their ideas on certain topics?  While this message may be a serious one and offer excellent food for thought, its presentation in Art is very funny.

This is thanks to three talented comedic actors, all highly qualified.  Drayton proudly presents Don Most (Serge) in this comedy.  Most will be remembered as the hilarious sidekick Ralph Malph on TV’s hit show Happy Days, which poked fun at the 1950s, when it ran for 10 years from 1974 to 1984.

Joining Most is Lee MacDougall (Marc), a familiar face at Drayton Entertainment.  MacDougall was in the original Toronto cast of the popular musical Come From Away set in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11, which then went on to Broadway.  After spending a few years in the role of Nick, he has returned home to Canada.

Ralph Small (Yvan) completes the cast.  Small, who is often seen in comedic roles, is also a director and teaches in the musical theatre program at Sheridan College.

The three have perfect chemistry and are certainly believable as long-time best friends.  Without their carefully crafted interaction and their impeccable comedic timing, Art would not succeed.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as the three characters interact.  Their delivery of the witty dialogue makes the show funny.  In particular, Small as Yvan has a lengthy and hilarious monologue about his upcoming wedding and trying to decide on the invitations.  It involves his fiancé, mother, step-mother and future mother-in-law, and their demands about the wording on the invitations.  Anyone who has gone through wedding planning will recognize his litany of problems.

At first, some of their lines seem stilted and strange because the play is translated into English from French.  Some phrases seem out of place.  But with these talented actors you soon forget about the translation.

It’s a clever little comedy that holds up a mirror to our relationships with our friends, and reminds us to respect our different opinions.  We don’t all agree on politics or religion, so why should we agree on art.  This play shows us how to laugh with our friends at our own foibles and maintain our relationships.  And this excellent cast demonstrates just how it is done.

Art continues with eight shows a week until October 20 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Call the Box Office Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check for availability.

Photo: Ralph Small, Lee MacDougall, and Don Most as Yvon, Marc and Serge.

Art – 2019
By Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Max Reimer
Performed by Don Most, Lee MacDougall, Ralph Small
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, Waterloo
October 2 to 20, 2019
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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