Reviews - Art, Chichester Festival Theatre

Art
Art

Some plays are so in tune with the mood and spirit of the time in which they are written that they come to define it.

Art was born in the mid-1990s in Paris and because it captures so perfectly the subtle shifts in attitudes, not least to materialism and friendship, it continues to resonate. And to dazzle.

At its heart it’s a simple tale.

Serge, played with such exquisite elegance by Nigel Havers, raids his middle-class savings to indulge in a piece of contemporary art - an entirely white canvass with a hint of some diagonal lines.

His two long-standing mates - Marc (Denis Lawson) and Yvan (Stephen Tompkinson - are in no doubt that this is a ridiculous waste of £200,000.

But while Marc has no hesitation in speaking his mind, Yvan seeks unsuccessfully to bridge the gap.

As modern politics has shown, sometimes seeking the middle route of compromise is the most difficult path of them all.

So friendships are pushed to their limits as the real value of this large rectangle of white is finally evaluated in terms of human priorities.

Delicately witty and with a white set which is as understated as the artwork itself, this is a delicious production.

Havers, Tompkinson and Lawson slip effortlessly into the roles with such adept professionalism it’s hard to believe they are not those three old mates getting to grips with the triumphs and disappointments that have peppered their lives.

Twenty years on, this work of art is still priceless.

Art, Chichester Festival Theatre, Until Saturday February 2