By Saul Barrett, 6.2
Yasmina Reza’s Art at the Old Vic presents us with three friends brought together and ultimately torn apart by one friend, Serge, and his costly purchase of a completely white painting.
As an originally lofty disagreement spirals into a malicious attack on one another, Matthew Warchus’ production astutely observes and satirises the way we talk about art. Reza is known for taking middle class and polite individuals and stripping them of all inhibition or kindness as their world comes crumbling around them. We see this in Rufus Sewell’s pretentious and stern character of Serge who is lambasted by the older traditionalist, Mark, while Tim Key’s fantastically vulnerable peacemaker Yvan is repeatedly made the punch-bag upon which they direct their frustrations, along with being denounced as ‘uncultured’.
Tall white walls evoke the sparse elegance of the Parisian setting while three chairs around a coffee table function as the domestic boxing ring around which the trio hurl their long-held resentment towards one another. Along with the well-choreographed dance between niceties and menace of the three actors the real triumph of the evening is Reza’s script which finds humour and sadness while making intriguing statements about art as well as using the subject as a vehicle for exorcising the anxieties and grievances of middle aged friends.