Yasmina Reza’s ‘Art’ is a testing script with lots of fast monologues and exchanges – for comic effect, you might suspect this rapidity works better in the original language it was written in, French, but the linguistic gymnastics were overall awe-inspiring.
All three actors do a good job of bringing rhythm to their sections – particularly Rasmus Emil Mortensen, who is a masterful orator and in command every time he speaks as Marc, the friend who cannot accept the art purchase.
Another That Theatre regular, Benjamin Stender in the role of Serge – the owner of the piece of art – has the more challenging role, and it is a performance that grows on you, portentously rumbling towards an inevitable eruption.
Art’s Algernon Moncrieff
But arguably the most critical role is Peter Vinding’s as Yvan, the friend caught in the middle, and it feels like it is a missed opportunity – although that is debatable.
In what is the most comic role, Vinding mostly foregoes the beats in favour of naturalism. We’re asked to believe in a character whose absurdity, quite frankly, knows no bounds. But surely ‘Art’ is first and foremost a comedy, so there’s no disgrace in Ivan being a caricature.
The role is evocative of Algernon Moncrieff from ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ – right down to his fondness for snacking – but without the exaggerated comical accent announcing him as a figure of fun from the moment he enters the play.
‘Art’ offers 85 minutes of slick entertainment, and Ian Burns is once again underlining his capability as a director of some clout.
The fourth-wall addresses were effectively rendered, whilst physicality was well employed to permeate the play with its main theme: the foundations of friendship and our respect for them.
A riotous fight towards the end was splendidly Burns-like – a suitable climax to a play that bristled by at a pulsating rate.