18 September 2023 - 23 September 2023

Sherborne Studio Theatre

Originally written in French in 1994, Art, written by Yasmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton, won awards for Best Play in Paris and subsequently Best Comedy in London. The plot explores the tensions in a long-established three-way friendship, which is put under strain by Serge's foray into the art market via the very expensive purchase of a painting by a fashionable artist – but it's just a blank white canvas. He is thrilled, and sees himself as a connoisseur. Marc is baffled, thinks this is absurd, and cannot believe that the friend he thought he knew could be so deluded. Serge takes offence and accuses him of being an arrogant philistine. When they appeal to their mutual friend Yvan he annoys them by trying to appease both, offering no firm opinion of his own. In contrast to the others' successful careers, Yvan's circumstances and impending marriage are a disappointment and a muddle, and Serge and Marc ruthlessly point out what they see as his weakness and confused passage through life – but their own lives and attitudes are also open to criticism. The quarrelling intensifies, revealing new layers of what they really think of each other.

The expert translation is sharp, clever, philosophical and funny. The play builds to a climactic scene which induces both shock and laughter, then ends with an ambiguous resolution and a final moment of profound reflection. This is an enthralling and hilarious comedy that manages to make not just one serious point, but two. What do we value as 'art', and why? Are we who we think we are, or are we the person our friends think we are? At some point, do we have to choose?

Mark Lambert
01258 817270
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