(Actors Jeffrey Bastien as Serge, Chris Lanspeary as Yvan, and Dean Valentino as Marc following rehearsal of Ghost Light Players’ production of Art by Yasmina Reza at Kordazone Theatre on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. The show opens on February 6. Photo above by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.)
Three friends are almost torn asunder by a simple piece of art, admittedly, an almost rather blank and bland work at best. In its latest production, Art, if nothing else Ghost Light Players proves for all to see that under the veneer of long-term friendships lurks a “perpetual sense of suspicion.” It rears its ugly head and while it brings three old friends to blows it also practically severs the endearing bonds that have bound them together.
Watching Art, written by playwright Yazmina Reza, is almost a bit similar, in its own way, to sitting in front of a television to observe the pull and push of Freddie and Stuart in the famed British sitcom Vicious. The homosexual pair have been together for 50 some years and are able to snipe and snap at each other with perfection and a certain amount of affection.
Art is not about homosexuals, but three male professionals who hang out together and have curiously reached a state of no longer being unable to hold in each one’s opposing opinionated viewpoints. Without question, there appears to be a waning in the affection they once shared for each other illustrated by the snipes and snaps that roll out in considerable volume.
It is, as in Vicious, about relationships and the comparison to Vicious is worthy. Ghost Light actually presented the play to critical acclaim last summer and has brought it back for a very commendable purpose. This year it is in contention for a place at the 2020 Western Ontario Drama League Festival (WODLF), being held later in Cambridge.
A WODLF adjudicator will be in the audience on opening night, Thursday, February 6 at the Kordazone Theatre, taking notes of course. If all goes well the adjudicator should be duly impressed, as the audience will be, in the subtleties of the highly accomplished actors, Dean Valentino as Marc, Jeffery Bastien as Serge and Chris Lanspeary as Yvan.
The comparisons to Vicious are based on the changes Director Jeremy Burke has made to the play. There are actually two versions of Art, he tells Eyes on Windsor. One was written specifically for an American audience while a second was penned for British theatregoers.
Burke has turned the tables a bit, from using the American script almost exclusively in its first run last year, to masterfully extracting bits from both scripts to create a significant refresh of the play.
The jabs the characters toss at each other are jarring, cruel and petty. Serge’s new painting, which required an expenditure of $100,000 is little more than a white canvas. Despite this he sees a rich tapestry of a few colours other than white while Marc sees the whole purchase as hysterical. Yvan, on the doorstep of a marriage, seems living in a stew of having to deal with his and his betrothed’s relatives and tries to remain neutral on the painting.
Although, there is no neutrality in Art, it is not really the painting which is the source of the drama when matters are brought to a head. Things have been simmering for about as long as the trio have been friends. What is most delightful is following the clues which are there and reveal quite accurately a situation with accumulated irritants.
Burke has succeeded in finding three actors very adept at physically and emotionally expressing their inner human conditions and to bring to the forefront the unique perspectives they have been harbouring deep in the foundations of their camaraderie.
It is, in the end, not really about art for arts sake, but is the first, contemplative play of the new year. There is a challenge in a three-actor play. They can get stale pretty quickly. But Burke has overcome inertia with a number of methods to keep a commendable pace.
Art, as a topic, works on a number of levels and that alone makes it so delightful and a must attend for those looking to be entertained contemplatively.
Windsor’s Ghost Light Players was formed to create a collaborative environment leading to theatre without fear. The non-profit charitable production company’s want is to create a collaborative environment to create theatre without fear to enrich the community through a greater understanding of humanity.
ART opens at the east end’s Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, February 6, with repeat performances 7, & 8, 2020. Tickets: $20 dollars in advance, $25 at the door.
All performances are at 8pm.
Directed by Jeremy Burke with stage management by Anna Rosati-Loft.
For more information visit Ghost Light Players on Facebook or the Eyes On Windsor Event Listing: Ghost Light Players presents ART A Comedy by Yasmina Reza
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.