I was disappointed by Art. Claiming to be one of the most successful comedies to hit the stage, it never rang truer that sense of humour is a very personal thing.
I couldn’t really even tell you what it was about, or what the deeper message (if there was one) was. OK, I can sort of tell you what it was about; Serge (Nigel Havers) buys some art, the centre piece the whole play is based around, that is essentially a white painting, on a white background, with some diagonal white lines. Serge’s friend, Marc (Denis Lawson), is mighty unimpressed by the painting and isn’t afraid to say. Their third friend, Yvan (Stephen Tompkinson), doesn’t seem fussed either way and wants to agree with both to keep them happy and have an easy life, as he has other things on his mind with an impending marriage.
It was an hour and half of bickering, over using long words to almost distract you from the fact that there didn’t seem to be any actual substance. I think maybe I took away some kind of message about friendship and/or jealousy and/or resentment, I really don’t know. Two note worthy moments were Tompkinson’s rant regarding wedding invitation etiquette and keeping mothers, stepmothers, and stepmothers-in-law happy, and an appearance from a downhill skiing stickman.
Discussing outside with some other theatre goers, they queried whether our difference in opinion on the play was a generational gap issue (they found it splendid), and maybe that was the case. All the actors played their parts magnificently, they are all well known in T.V, but maybe the audience went to see them, rather than the play itself, and that’s what they enjoyed the most?
It was stiff upper lip, lots of repeating the same lines – in a row…by each character “Did you say that? I said that! That? That is what I said” style – and just a bit, dare I say, boring. I hope it was an age difference issue; people were laughing. Maybe it was too clever for me?
There was no interval, which did make me wonder if I’d have stuck around for the second half if there was.
Review by Johnny Banks
Art is showing until Saturday 3rd May at Nottingham Theatre Royal, tickets are available here, if you feel that you may be of the right generation.