Culture: Art

What’s on Stage


Rufus Sewell may have been the first thing to attract me to French playwright Yasmina Reza’s Art, which has been revived by director Matthew Warchus and is showing at The Old Vic until 18 February. But this short play, which poses a series of questions about modern art, is worth seeing for reasons other than one man’s charisma.

Art tells the tale of three male friends – Tim Key and Paul Ritter join Sewell on stage – and the power struggles between them when one spends €100,000 on an all-white painting. After divorced dermatologist Serge (Sewell) spends the extortionate sum, classicist Marc (Ritter) is incensed and calls the empty canvas “a piece of shit”. As well as considering both the subjectivity of taste and the inflation of the art market, Art explores the nature of friendship: is it better to air your opinions or to do as middleman Yvan (Key) does and tell (appropriately) white lies in order to keep the peace?

Either way, it’s best to decide for yourself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this witty and amusing production it’s that we all see things differently – especially, Serge insists, from different angles.

10 December 2016 – 18 February 2017.

The Old Vic, The Cut, London, SE1 8NB.

Photo: Chloë Ashby.

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