The Nottingham New Theatre has recently been splashed with the colours of Art, a production exploring ideas of friendship through an original and thought-provoking frame. Alice Busvine reviews Jake Levy’s adaptation of Art by Yasmina Reza for Impact Magazine.
In the lead up to the Nottingham New Theatre’s production of Art I had, admittedly, been curious to see what this adaptation would have in store for its audience. It is, of course, a self-evident fact that a piece of art can retain the power to divide opinions of even the closest of friends. But upon reading that this was to be a comedic play, I wondered how successfully this adaptation would be able to harness that complex field of human emotion and its relation to art, whilst maintaining that integral natural comedy.
Yet as soon as the performance snapped into action, the dynamic between Marc (Hassan Bajwa), Serge (Demi Idowu) and Yvan (Max Nichols), felt so seamlessly cast and, through their natural chemistry, conversations surrounding the piece of art brought not only effortless humour, but raw elements of truth on the subject of what it is to grow up, and fall out with those we’ve grown with.
The play follows the relationships between three friends as conflict breaks out between them, after Serge buys a completely white (or, not white?) painting. Marc cannot understand the purchase and feels frustration at finding choices of his life-long friend unrecognisable, whilst Yvan desperately tries to act as a medium between the two, trying to please everyone whilst getting bogged down in his own problems. The dialogue between the characters felt natural whilst their monologues, which were performed so close to the front of the stage that it felt like a personal gossiping session between audience and actor, were particularly enjoyable and humorous to observe.
This set design allowed the costumes to keep the eye of the audience
The set design was simple – everything was white. White walls, white furniture, all surrounding the white (or, not white…) painting that was effectively kept, for the most part, as central in the stage as it was in the dialogue. Whilst this did make me question why it was so surprising to his friends that Serge would buy a white painting when everything else in his room was white, this set design allowed the costumes to keep the eye of the audience. It served as a reminder that the play itself was truly focusing on the relationship between these characters, not the quibbled-over painting.
The set design and lighting felt as though they were kept purposefully simple. Stage effects were not over utilised and I felt this allowed for the performances of the three characters to be truly observed. The personal and simple layout of the stage made it feel as though the audience were really playing witness to the conversations between the actors, proceeding as judge to the situation and provoking us to wonder how we ourselves would qualify the purchase of a white painting…
Overall, this production managed to explore the sombre subject of looking upon those we feel we know everything about, and yet find something unrecognisable, whilst radiating a charming natural comedy that allowed for the production to feel well balanced in the thoughts that it provoked.
Featured image courtesy of The Nottingham New Theatre via Facebook. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @art.nnt via @instagram.com. No changes were made to these images.
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