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Playwright Yasmina Reza’s international hit “Art” opened at the IU Theatre’s Wells-Metz Theatre in a production directed by Murray McGibbon.

Yasmina Reza had a friend who spent a very hefty sum of money for an all-white painting. The purchase so baffled his friends that they began to wonder about him and about their relations with him.

Reza went on from this incident to write a play in which three friends grapple with this sort of aberration. The three, Marc an aeronautical engineer, Yvan newly launched on a career in stationary, and Serge, the dermatologists who’s spent forty thousand dollars on the painting.

In “Art” the characters talk, interact and deliver interior monologues directly to the audience.. Jonathan Molitor as Marc, is the most outspokenly critical and even suspicious about the purchase of the painting. Jose Antonio Garcia, as Yvan, tries to be ingratiatingly supportive, but does eventually break down in laughter. Sam Wooten, as Serge the art lover, is by turns proud of his purchase, baffled by his friends’ responses and very angry with them.

Throughout the IU production all three actors did a fine job with these difficult extended parts. Molitor and Wooten had most of the high drama and playwright Reza throws in a little homoerotic tension for spice. Antonio Garcia had the low comedy part and did a masterful job. His wound up, non-stop-monologue about the problems of his upcoming wedding drew the sort of applause that you hear at a jazz concert after a masterful solo.

The classy, sparse modern set is new faculty member Robert J. Bovard’s first design for IU. Robert Graham handled both the subtle general lighting for “Art” and the isolated dramatic moments as well.

“Art” is a well handled piece of light entertainment on the subject of friendship. It’s really more of an intimate cabaret piece than what we usually expect in a stage play. The general feel of the show is definitely European. Frankly, it’s interesting to just watch three guys spend two hours together without ever talking about sports, sex, or drinking. “Art” doesn’t pretend to expose any great depth or high moral purpose. It’s an involving, sometimes fascinating, chance to spend time and get to know three pretty interesting guys.

“Art” at the IU Theatre plays each evening this week through Saturday.

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