REVIEW: Art – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

This review was originally published by The Reviews Hub.

An almost universal hit on its debut in the 90s, French playwright Yasmina Reza’s Tony, Olivier and Moliere Award-winning Art, has embarked on a multi date revival tour of the U.K.

Serge (Nigel Havers), a divorced dermatologist, Marc (Denis Lawson) an engineer and Yvan (Stephen Tompkinson) a stationery salesman’s friendship is well and truly tested when Serge buys a large, expensive, entirely white, piece of modern art. Rational Marc is horrified, Yvan tries to placate the pair, but, when they turn on pacifier Yvan, their 25 year relationship implodes.

Packed with witty, wry, well-observed, razor-sharp dialogue, Art remains as funny as it ever was and the rapid-fire verbal gymnastics, delivered by the sure-footed trio, is an absolute delight. While the piece retains its philosophical, Gallic feel, the rumination on modern art may have lost some of its impact over time. The Brit-Art movement has pervaded popular culture and is less divisive than it once was. What it still does wonderfully, is examine the nature of long-term friendship and the ties that bind. It is brilliantly clever, and beneath the laughs, it poses important questions that we could all ask of our friendships.

Havers, Lawson and Tompkinson are hugely experienced actors and the aplomb and speed with which they tackle Reza’s complex dialogue is laudable. Tompkinson’s seven minute monologue on the politics of wedding invitations receives loud, well-deserved, spontaneous applause. In fact, there are bursts of applause throughout the piece, such is the quality of the work. Comic timing is also key and each actor can raise a laugh with the mere raising of an eyebrow.

At around 80 minutes, Art is short but perfectly formed. This is a class act and an extremely entertaining evening of theatre.

Currently touring the U.K. | Image: Contributed