Black Rat Productions and Blackwood Miners Institute’s presentation of Yasmina Reza’s ART has reached the journeys end of its month-long Welsh tour.
The 90-minute comedy translated by Christopher Hampton and starring Gareth J Bale, Kieron Self and Director, Richard Tunley, reached the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Richard Burton Theatre on Thursday evening and was received by its audience as a slick, fun and enthralling production throughout.
Opening with the three protagonists emerging from the three sliding doors / walls of Sean Crowley’ s ingenious Paris apartment set, the trio playfully explore their surroundings with a comedic choreography reminiscent to Marcelle Marceau, before attempting to leave through the set’s sliding doors, with mixed but hilarious results.
With the formula makeup of traditional situation comedy, ART questions what we define as “modern art,” but also what happens when a long-term friendship between three people is tested over a difference of opinion.
When Serge buys an expensive “White on White” piece of art by Antrios, Marc thinks his friend has lost his mind, while Yvan remains undecided and has more pressing matters with an impending wedding looming and a potential mid-life meltdown.
Bringing the characters of ART to life, are three exceptional actors who diversify by performing together, in duologues and monologues, breaking the fourth wall to the audience and given extra effect by Robin Bainbridge’s lighting design.
Gareth J Bale’s Serge is both knowledgeable and controlled when facing criticism over his choice of modern art and loyalties as a friend. Bale unfurls more of Serge’s character as the production progresses, bringing much humanity and feeling to a character which starts off appearing to be slightly removed from the others.
Richard Tunley’s Marc is perhaps the most identifiable of the three characters and gets a strong appreciation of laughter as he surveys Serge’s “White on White” painting purchase. Tunley’s well-timed long pauses, illustrated with the occasional nuance are delightfully received by the audience with laughter throughout the theatre.
Keiron Self’s Yvan is probably the most endearing of the trio and gets some heavily emotional dialogue at times. One scene sees him arrive late for a meal and offer a lengthy explanation at breakneck speed about how his wedding plans are not working out. This earns Self a well-deserved round of applause.
The actors all bounce off each other well, with their interplay climaxing with a hilarious scene in which they break into a fight with humorous results
Pairing three great character creations with three exceptional actors, ART is a masterpiece of a comedy classic.
ART continues at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama until November 9. The production has an age guidance of 14+