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Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Palace

November 28, 2019

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Art, The Old Vic

February 14, 2017

 

This 20th anniversary run of Yazmin Reza's french short is the Christopher Hampton translation, directed by Michael Warchus of Pride fame. Starring Christopher Sewell as a very strong Serge, comic timing perfectionist Tim Key (Peep Show) as Yvan and stuffy but sentimental 'man of his time' Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) as Marc. The dynamic trio played off each other in such a way that the stark white stage was easily consumed by their personas, Key's high emotion often fuelling the pace against the other two's more intellectual and calculated delivery. 

 

If you are unfamiliar with the play, it's necessary to know that the plot is entirely based around Serge purchasing a contemporary piece of art that is, arguably, a blank white canvas and the effects this then has on the following few days in the lives of these three comrades.

 

Art is entirely subjective, and like it's namesake so is the play. I found myself identifying with each character in equal measures throughout, changing my mind on who I agreed with, wondering which one was 'right', when the answer, really, was none of them. Much like the white canvas, you project your own self onto it. I tend to search for meaning in everything, so I found myself searching for the meaning in the painting and in the play; whilst other audience members likely just went out on a Monday night in London to see a short and funny play and there was nothing more to it than a lighthearted enjoyable 90 minutes (with no interval).

 

If contemporary art genuinely interests you then it's likely you will find yourself as I did, enjoying the slightly specialist theory behind the script; but if I'm honest, Art could also be viewed as a sceptical portrayal of three middle-aged white men in different stages of their respective mid-life crises, taking it out on each other through the medium of some highly pretentious common-interest, whilst simultaneously demeaning any mentioned woman they have in their fictitious lives. Regardless of this, Art raises questions about friendships, and whether 'white' (sorry!) lies are constructive or destructive in relationships.

 

However you interpret Art, it is certainly still relevant to audiences in 2017. Art not only encourages self-study and philosophical musings around friendship and purity, but also cleverly raises the common-debated subject of art's worth and where the value truly lies in something subjective. Although the play is not very old now, I imagine it will establish itself as a classic timeless piece, as the viewpoint on contemporary art in all its varying forms will never be agreed upon, and that's what gives Art it's worth as a commentary on modern society.

 

 

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