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Transcript: Connie Meng Review aired Friday, October 19, 2001
Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT. Wednesday, October 17 through Sunday, October 28, 2001
ART, the opening production of Vermont Stage at Flynnspace, is a witty exploration of both the nature of friendship and the nature of art. Written by Yasmina Reza and winner of the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play, ART seems destined to become one of the classics of intellectual comedy. Centered around one characterís acquisition of a white painting, three old friends manage to tie themselves into rational, emotional and physical knots. Iíd seen the play before, but hadnít realized how truly funny and also how touching it is until I saw this production.
I think the intimacy of the Flynnspace contributes to the effectiveness of the production, as we are able to see every subtle change of expression. All the tiny flickers of self-doubt, anger and glee are immediately apparent. The excellent lighting helps provide a very clear focus.
Speaking of focus, Director Beatrice Terry has brought out the multi-layered ideas of the play. One line in particular seems to resonate. When speaking of the painting Yvan says, ĒIf it makes him happy, he can afford it.Ē Ms. Terryís direction clarifies not only the playís ideas about art and friendship, but also those about happiness, fashion, money, and the true worth of all these things.
Sheís set up a terrific opening scene where the first big laughs come during silence - quite a trick! Itís all in the timing and the three actors have it in spades. This is a natural gift; a good director can shape it, but not bestow it.
Artistic Director Mark Nash makes an excellent Marc. This is the first time Iíve seen him perform as an actor, and he certainly lives up to expectations. His restraint provides a good contrast to Paul Molnarís Serge, who is more overtly emotional. I particularly enjoyed Mr. Molnarís tentative and barely suppressed glee when displaying his painting.
As to Marc Carverís performance as Yvan, itís nothing short of hilarious, especially his extended tale of woe. Heís right on the edge of going over the top, but never does. The three men are contrasting physical types, which in an odd way seems to match their very different personalities. Theyíre all able to maintain their believability in the face of lightning changes from the comedic moments to the serious ones, and vice versa.
I donít want to sound too laudatory, but itís just plain terrific. On a scale of one to five, the Vermont Stageís production of ART gets five ferryboats. For North Country Public Radio, Iím Connie Meng.