I’m a huge fan of the Old Vic’s £10 preview offer, which means I’ve been able to see more of their shows this year than I might otherwise have been able to. I took advantage of the offer to see Art, a play by Yasmina Reza (translated into English by Christopher Hampton) that uses modern art to explore the dynamics of friendship. The play, which originally premiered in 1994, hasn’t dated in the intervening period. This revival is directed by Old Vic artistic director, Matthew Warchus.
Serge (Rufus Sewell) has bought a new painting: a very modern white canvas that his close friend Marc (Paul Ritter) cannot see any merit in. This difference of opinion leads to some spirited – and very funny – discussions, especially when their friend Yvan (Tim Key), who has his own problems with his forthcoming marriage, is unwillingly drawn into the altercation.
In one way the play is about, well, art – is modern art like Serge’s new painting any good or not? – but on another, deeper level it is about friendship and whether it can survive such difference of opinion. It is extremely funny, too, with Rufus Sewell superb as the art-loving Serge and Paul Ritter excellent as his more traditional friend, as well as Tim Key often stealing the show as their downtrodden friend Yvan. Definitely worth seeing.