AVON — For your amusement, I give you three educated men, eminently articulate but only slightly sophisticated, about to get their undies in a bundle over a white square.
The Vail Valley Theatre Company once again shows off its breadth and diversity with the performance of a celebrated piece by one of today’s most brilliant playwrights. The same company that audaciously brings “The Rocky Horror Show” to the valley is also well known for its more thoughtful productions ... you’ll remember “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Company.” This spring’s presentation continues the lineup of rich, eloquent and fully entertaining shows.
Meaning behind the painting
The quotation marks that appear in the title “Art” are by design and purposeful. This latest offering by the VVTC purports to explore the meaning and value of the word through the fast paced dialogue of three friends, but it soon becomes clear that this is much more about the nature of friendship than it is about a painting.
Set in Paris, the story revolves around three friends — Serge, Marc and Yvan — who find their previously solid 15-year friendship on shaky ground when Serge buys an expensive painting. The canvas is white, with a few white lines. Marc is horrified by Serge’s purchase, but is it the painting that offends him or the uncharacteristic independence-of-thought that the purchase reveals in Serge? For the insecure Yvan, burdened by the problems of his impending doom (wedding) and an unsatisfying career path, Serge and Marc’s friendship is his sanctuary. Eager to please, he laughs about the painting with Marc but tells Serge he likes it, and his peacemaking attempts and vacillations backfire and fuel the blazing row. Lines are drawn and they square off over the canvas, using it as an excuse to relentlessly batter one another over various failures. As their arguments become less theoretical and more personal, they border on destroying the friends’ bond.
This is a funny, entertaining study of male friendship skewered by the outside perspective of a female rapier wit. French playwright Yasmina Reza premiered “Art” in Paris in 1994, and the play has since been translated and performed in over 30 languages. Among several accolades, it won the Moliere Award for Best Author and the Tony Award for Best Play. It has lured the fine talents of Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Sean Connery, Buck Henry and George Segal. The Vail Valley will have the opportunity to see these characters played by long time locals Lance Schober, Cooter Overcash and, it is my honor to say, yours truly. Herding these talented but totally directionless cats is Kaylee Brennand, VVTC’s president, chief bottle washer and oft-sought-after director. We are lucky that this whirling dervish in the professional world, at this moment, has the time to devote to such a great play.
“Art” will be performed at Montana’s After Dark in Avon this weekend and next. The intimate venue will sell out quickly, and you don’t want to miss this one. Get your tickets at www.vvtc.org and prepare yourself for an evening of rollicking crescendos and grandiose profundities. And certainly a bit of a smile.
See you there.