Art – a comedy

‘Art’ is a very funny comedy which also challenges the audience to investigate their own lives. Written in 1994 by 35-year-old French playwright Yasmina Reza, known for her satiric plays on the topic of modern middle-class anxieties. The English translation was aided by Christopher Hampton.

By 1996 Art became a Sean Connery London production starring Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, and Ken Stott; it won four Oliviers, and two years later Broadway ‘Art’ whilst enjoying a 600-performance run, won three Tonys including Best Play.

Now in its tenth-year Company O is presenting this 85-minute (no interval) quirky production. It has a season of 4 nights and can be seen at 7.30 pm in the Holmes à Court Gallery, 10 Douglas Street / 575 Newcastle Street in West Perth on Thursday 29th September nightly until Sunday 2nd October. There is also a matinée at 2.00 on Sunday afternoon.

If you have not visited this gallery before, it will be open from 6.45 to allow the audience to admire the many fine artworks by adults and children from Fitzroy Crossing before the performance.

The Scene:           2011. Serge’s flat, the large white painting is on prominent display

The Set: Three modern leather and steel armchairs.

Lighting design:                 Justin Neil Mosel-Crossley. Clever use of the limited lighting to give even coverage and managed to pick out each actor as they performed their brief monologues.

Lighting operator:            Codey Finlay, on the ball with the fast-moving cues.

Props:                   The painting in question was artistically designed by Julie Pheasant.

Stage manager:                Codey Finlay

Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Serge (Nigel Goodwin) always feels he deserves the best to demonstrate his  – doubtful? – impeccable taste. He has just purchased a large piece of modern art. A very expensive artwork by a sought-after artist. It is an entirely white painting with several fine white lines.

One of his best friends, Marc (Andrew O’Connell) probably with a deprived upbringing, is now a self-made man but still has his rough edge and is willing to state his mind. Marc is not impressed with Serge’s latest purchase!

Next to pop in and see Serge, is Ivan (Jason Robert Lester) a middle-aged mummy’s boy who has a lot going on in his sad life.

The three pals, with a solid 15-year friendship, meet to have one of their regular nights out. How solid is that bond of friendship?

Musician Krispin Maesalu composed the background incidental music. Tucked away in the corner, Krispin played the live music on an oboe. An ingenious choice of instrument, as it can give the light-hearted, perky, and bouncy backing for the lighter moods and then capable of the rich lower notes for the occasional sombre passages. As always, he kept the volume as an accompaniment and not as a major presence. Fine work.

A qualified physiotherapist and now a playwright, actor and theatre director, Andrew O’Connell fearlessly brings to Perth idiosyncratic plays that would otherwise be missed or avoided because of the acting demands. This play has very tight, intricate, clever, and fast-moving dialogue; great for the audience but very demanding on the performers. Andrew’s powerful direction was helped by assistant director Codey Finlay, a newish talent in the directing field but an essential requirement when the director is also acting in the play. The impressive cast was flawless as the moods swung from joking to intense ‘discussion’.

This is a hilarious piece of theatre that will have you chuckling throughout – but cringing at times.