Have you ever witnessed a friend spend exorbitant amounts of money on something you find insignificant, frivolous or even downright awful? This testy situation is the basis of the satirical comedy show “Art,” which debuted at the beginning of this month and runs until May 19. The play — directed by Brett Carr and originally written by French playwright Yasmina Reza — is a 90-minute exploration of the humorous changes long-term friendships endure.
“Art” follows best friends Marc, Yvan and Serge and details the comedic boiling point in which their friendship comes unraveled. It’s as if Serge ripped Marc’s heart to bits when he shares a recent painting purchase — one in which Marc completely disapproves of due to its lack of color and concept. To Marc, this painting represents not only the pitiful state of contemporary art, but the realization that the same can be said about Marc’s and Serge’s 20-year-old friendship.
“It’s sh*t,” Marc says matter-of-factly to Serge.
To Serge, this painting is completely worth the $200 thousand price tag, and he can’t understand how his friend could be so uncultured and obtuse. The two express their frustrations individually to Yvan, who now finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of frustration — a common difficulty attributed to the lack of or brutal presence of complete honesty in long friendships. As the story goes on, Yvan, Serge and Marc come clean about the pros and cons of one’s perception of each other, leaving much of their true thoughts uncovered. The strength of their friendship is pushed to the limit and — after a physical altercation — these three are forced to either continue on as friends or to cut ties.
The development of Marc’s and Serge’s feud is put forth through a series of individual monologues where the scene freezes momentarily, allowing for each person to individually express their true thoughts to the audience. Each time a character breaks the fourth wall, a piece of their several character flaws and absurdly comical personality is revealed. The monologues — in combination with the snarky and heated dialogues — make up for the play’s limited set and backdrop. “Art” paints a complete picture of each of its three characters and provides its audience the tools necessary to know who Marc, Yvan and Serge really are, as well as the kooky thought processes they illogically follow.
“Art” contemplates the human experience of friendship and pokes fun at the sometimes inconceivable trials and tribulations that occur when a deep connection to another person is established. For those who enjoy dramatic performances full of satirical remarks surrounding modern art, this play is sure to be a hit. However, this play relies a lot on extensive dialogue with minimal set changes, so those who seek more action in a play may have trouble maintaining interest. It’s also important to note that while “Art”’s use of sentence enhancers exemplify the play’s hilarity, it may render it inappropriate for young children. “Art” provides an evening of laughs and is relatable to anyone who has ever been in an over-dramatic, tough situation with a valued friend.
Tacoma Arts Live’s rendition of “Art” runs Friday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 18 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m at Theatre on the Square in Downtown Tacoma.