Pin It

Blank Slate 

Your friend has ridiculous taste. Do you correct him? Or do you preserve your friendship?

click to enlarge TAMMY MARSHALL
  • Tammy Marshall

“Art” isn’t about art at all. It’s about friendship: How we try to domineer our friends and mold them according to our own values.

It’s a thoughtful play, but “Art” is also a comedy — because the relationship decisions that playwright Yasmina Reza’s three characters make are all so laughably bad.

Suppose, for example, that your best friend did something that you considered wrong-minded, wasteful, pretentious and embarrassing. Would you tell him?

Would you tell him kindly, and with an eye to preserving your friendship? Or would you tell him unkindly, getting all principled and cold with him?

In director Reed McColm’s production of Yasmina Reza’s play (through March 27), Interplayers has bounced back with one of the current season’s best productions.

As Marc — who scoffs at the purchase by his friend Serge (Roger Welch) of an all-white painting — Jack Bannon offers the evening’s most subtle performance. When mocking the idea that a non-painting can have emotional “resonance,” Bannon clutches two hands to his chest and looks skyward, ever the martyr. When Serge praises an ancient writer for being “incredibly modern,” Bannon repeats the phrase with withering sarcasm. When Serge rebels against Marc’s disdain, Bannon responds with a resigned look, his hands folded, condescendingly calm.

Unfortunately, Bannon’s energy level seemed low at a preview-night performance; his voice, occasionally feeble. All three cast members were guilty of line-wobbles, noticeable lapses, places where the 90-minute, intermissionless pace needed to quicken. Over the course of the run, however, they’ll probably resolve such problems.

As Serge — purchaser of the all-white canvas — Roger Welch sweeps his arm across his prized possession. “It’s plain,” he says, investing the painting with more dignity than it deserves. It has only a few swipes of indiscernible color — enough to test whether we’ll restrain our ego (that’s a nice painting, Serge) or exert it (you’re an idiot, Serge).

Welch is perhaps at his best during the sequences when Serge and Marc gang up on their mutual friend Yvan (Patrick Treadway), who’s caught in the middle. Lounging on a sofa, with drink in hand, Welch tosses off insults with a sour expression, walking the fine line between blunt honesty and supercilious disdain.

Treadway’s finest moment comes in a mid-play rant, a miniature soap opera of a monologue in which Yvan whines about preparations for his upcoming wedding. Watch how Treadway avoids most look-how-frantic-I-am choices, instead choosing to stay seated on the couch, bouncing up only on occasion.

Poor spineless Yvan: caught between two massive egos, his pleas for the civility and consideration of genuine friendship go unheard. McColm emphasizes the dissolving friendships by disengaging his three actors in separate pools of light; for the various two-on-one face-offs, he aligns twosomes shoulder to shoulder while isolating the third actor.

Bannon invests the play’s final speech with a sobering reflection: We fill our lives with egotism. And then our lives disappear.

Will our legacies involve how many people loved us, or how well we upheld our principles? “Art” is the kind of play that inspires post-performance discussion — because you and your companions might have differing views about it.

At which point you may be compelled to choose: my friendships or my opinions?

“Art” sticks an all-white painting in our faces through March 27 on Wednesdays-Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, and Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm at Interplayers, 174 S. Howard St. Tickets: $15-$21; $12-$19, seniors; $10, student rush. Visit or call 455-PLAY.

  • Pin It

Speaking of Theater

  • What Does the Fox Say?
  • What Does the Fox Say?

    To play the lead in Pippin, Naysh Fox had to learn acrobatics and knife throwing — and he's stoked
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • Where the Cards May Fall
  • Where the Cards May Fall

    A production of The Gin Game is raising funds for the Civic while celebrating the power of live theater
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • The Bart of Storytelling
  • The Bart of Storytelling

    An eclectic dark comedy at Gonzaga draws on The Simpsons to reflect on the notion of stories
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • Variations of Zuill
  • Variations of Zuill

    Badass cellist. Musical missionary. Grammy winner. Zuill Bailey redefines Bach for the 21st century
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Backstage Story
  • Backstage Story

    Behind the preparation and precaution: Why it practically takes a village to put on a Cirque du Soleil show
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • The Genius of Bach
  • The Genius of Bach

    His lasting influence, and a look at this year's Bach Festival schedule
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • More »


Showing 1-1 of 1


Comments are closed.

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain

Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain @ Museum of Art/WSU

Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Continues through March 11

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

  • Partisan Pagans

    The political divide is even splintering Spokane's witches
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Finding the Words

    The sounds of 8,000 people taking to the streets of Spokane
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation