Skip to main content

Art


Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Four stars

Nothing is remotely black and white in the latest touring revival of Yasmina Reza’s 1996 meditation on friendship of a competitively male kind. Over the last two decades, the play has enabled numerous trios of TV-friendly faces to riff on the ever-changing nature of boys at play.  On the surface, Reza has written a chic sit-com of ever decreasing circles, a blank canvas of middle-aged spread that dissects and – yes – deconstructs a three-way split of a lifetime of shared experience. In truth, she has created something timeless, but which ebbs and flows in value at every showing.

Its starting point, the purchase of a Robert Rymanesque white on white painting by Nigel Havers’ debonair and ever-aspirant Serge, and the explosive rift it causes with his cynical friend Marc, played by Denis Lawson, is actually something of a red herring. This becomes clear when their other friend Yvan appears. With more down to earth problems of his own to contend with, Stephen Tompkinson’s Yvan is torn between both men, driven by a fear of causing offence in the face of such mutual extremes in a way that is increasingly indicative of our times.

Ellie Jones’ touring production is based on Matthew Warchus’ original Old Vic take on Christopher Hampton’s immaculately minimalist translation. Played out on designer Mark Thompson’s gleaming barely-there set, the result throughout Reza and Hampton’s series of bite-size duologues and monologues is as much an exercise in choreographing the action in a suitably painterly fashion as anything. In this respect, Havers’ faddish Serge, Lawson’s reactionary Marc and Tompkinson’s galumphing Yvan are allowed  to bask in some deliciously urbane exchanges, each coloured in by a succession of well-timed physical tics. By the end, they are framed as life-studies caught in a succession of moments that may yet define them.

The Herald, April 11th 2018

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …

High Society

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

The stage looks gift-wrapped with a sparklingly expensive bow at the opening of John Durnin's revival of Arthur Kopit's Cole Porter based musical that reinvigorates the starry 1956 film where it originated. With the film itself drawing from Philip Barry's play, The Philadelphia Story, Kopit and Porter's depiction of the Long Island jet set says much about over-privileged party people, but retains a fizz that keeps it going till all passion is seemingly spent.
The action is based around the forthcoming nuptials of drop-dead gorgeous society gal and serial bride, Tracy Lord. With her daddy having run off with a show-girl, and ex beau next door CK Dexter Haven set sail for other shores, Tracy settles for George, a stinking rich would-be president for whom stupidity, as someone observes, sits on his shoulders like a crown. Enter Tracy's match-making kid sister Dinah and a pair of reporters for a trashy scandal sheet looking to stit…