Art
  • By Rob Marks
  • |
  • 9th Aug 2009
  • |
  • ★★★★★

ArtC Venues5/5Jaw-droppingly, edge of your seat incredible.If I had paid £40 for this in the West End I would be delighted with what I saw for my money. This production, however, will cost you less than a tenner and is performed, not by professionals, but by a group of young actors, all recent graduates from the University of Birmingham with a level of professionalism and theatrical awareness that literally made me put my notes down in case I blinked and missed a microsecond.Serge (Danny Fisher) has bought a painting. But not just any painting. This is a perfectly white Andrios canvas that cost him 200,000 francs. Marc (David Moriquand) is furious about this extravagant waste of money and Serge’s infatuation with it. And their mutual friend Yvan (Benjamin Darlington) is unable to express an opinion either way for fear of upsetting his best friends.The performances are staggering. Under Anthony Pinnick’s brilliant direction, these characters are permanently on the edge of complete emotional collapse whilst retaining their believability and heart. Moriquand’s Marc is a gloriously contemptuous yuppie, who swills homeopathic remedies between rapid-fire bursts of apoplectic criticisms of the white painting. He’s always one notch below completely boiling over and turning Patrick Bateman’s nailgun on his friends. Danny Fisher, meanwhile, offers the perfect antithesis in Serge. He’s a pompous, yet collected, aesthete, tolerant of Marc’s opinions but refusing to let them go unchallenged, down to the adverbs Marc uses so carelessly. He never rises to Moriquand’s level of fury, not because he can’t, but because his is a performance realised in serene patience and complete faith in his character.It’s almost offensive to Fisher and Moriquand to call Darlington’s Yvan the stand-out performance of the show. But his performance is so completely formed, so perfectly rendered that I was genuinely concerned for his well-being as an actor. His nervous, twitching, stuttering Yvan straddles the line between Marc and Serge’s intellectualism, his fear literally paralysing him on stage. The highlight of the show is his five-minute, uninterrupted monologue about a disaster that has befallen his wedding invitations. It sees Darlington take on three characters at a speed that would make Lewis Hamilton quake in fear and I was left wondering when he was breathing. The play itself is fascinating. It throws up questions of the value of modernity, the purpose of intellectual and academic debate and whether money can truly buy art, culture or even value. If I could award them more stars then I absolutely would. Suffice to say, if you want to see an actual piece of theatre, by one of the most professional companies at this year’s Fringe for less than the price of a round, then you would be well advised to run down to C before Art sells out. And if it doesn’t, it will be an absolute crime.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Tensions rise when Serge shows his friends his new, very expensive, all-white painting. Rational debate quickly descends into a breakdown of tears, punches, nibbles and stationery. Yasmina Reza's award-winning comedy about art, friendship and judgement.

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