ART is a Tony Award winning play (1998 Best Play) now showing at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose. Directed by Veronica Drake and starring Kit Wilder, Jeffrey Bracco and (always my favorite) Max Tachis, it is both a very humorous and very French show. Playwright Yasmina Reza is also known for the plays Conversations After a Burial, Winter Crossing, and God of Carnage, and to be honest, she is not my favorite playwright. City Lights however has gathered a very talented cast and manages to pull off a show that had the entire audience laughing throughout.
Serge, Marc and Yvan have all been friends for many years until one day Serge buys a very expensive piece of art. He is delighted with his purchase, and shows it proudly to Marc, who promptly calls it “Sh!t” and then loses his mind when he finds out that Serge has paid 200,000 francs. Why is Marc so upset? Because the painting is a 5′ x 4′ canvas that has been painted white. All white. And while you can see three very very light diagonal white lines and one white horizontal line on the white background, the painting is indeed, entirely white.
What follows is 90 minutes of Marc belittling and berating Serge, Serge feeling very hurt and offended by Marc’s opinions, and both of them having little patience for young Yvan who appears to take whichever side is easiest at the moment. They angrily debate whether the painting is actually entirely white, or whether there are shades of grey, yellow, or even red in it. The arguments get more and more vehement, hurt and broken feelings rise to the surface, relationships within and without are questioned, and three friendships are soon on the rocks.
I have been awed by Max Tachis’ talent since I saw him starring in Renegade Theatre‘s 9 Circles; he also voiced a character in The Smell of The Kill, and wrote the play Perishable, Keep Refrigerated which is still playing at Renegade Theatre Experiment (Hoover Theater) through September 27. Nine Circles was a traumatic, cathartic performance, but here Tachis plays a more humorous role, and does it splendidly, with the most hilarious expressions and body language. He is an amazing local talent we are all very lucky to have. Kit Wilder and Jeffrey Bracco inhabit their more serious roles very well also, playing well with the three very different character personalities.
This play is for anyone interested in how relationships form and unravel or how the ties that bind in friendships can also lead to great pain. If you enjoy God of Carnage you will likely also love Art as they are very similar in tone, experience, and some themes. It is a quick, fast paced show with no intermission, and the audience on opening night had an excellent time!
Serge (Jeffrey Bracco), Marc (Kit Wilder), and Yvan (Max Tachis); photos by Mike Ko/siliconvalleydesigns.com.