Alex Mullarky goes behind the scenes of ‘Art’ and chats to the director and producer.
The Times described Yasmina Reza’s Art as ‘a remarkably wise, witty and intelligent comedy’. When asked to sum up the play in five words, director Beth Robertson’s response: ‘Five words? Okay, sure… dammit!’
Producer Lizzie Stone takes the question a little more seriously. ‘Exploration of friendship and art,’ she says, hastily adding, ‘That makes it sound a bit boring, but it really isn’t! There’s something a bit different about it. It examines culture and friendship at the same time, with only three characters.’
‘Art is a very character-driven play and that’s what I like,’ adds Beth. ‘The characters are supposed to have been friends for 15 years. If you think about it, that’s 15 years’ build-up of little grievances, doubts, jealousies. On the other hand, you must really like someone to put up with them for 15 years. They would have been there throughout all the big important bits and the wee boring bits too. They would know more about you than anyone else. That’s not an easy job for an actor to take on, but in some wonderful way my actors have done just that. It’s exhilarating to watch.’
So why did they decide to team up for this production? ‘Beth approached me with the piece at the beginning of the year. I knew if Beth had something she wanted to do it would be something good. I trust her opinion!’ says Lizzie.
Lizzie actually played my daughter in a wee show last year called In Flame,’ says Beth. ‘I spat some jelly at her. After that, we just fell in love.’
‘Since then, I haven’t been able to get rid of her,’ says Lizzie. The heart of the play is a blank canvas, and the differing opinions of three friends: usually Yvan, Serge and Marc, but in this staging, Marc becomes Marie. ‘We changed one of the male characters to a female and the undertones that it exposes are completely different,’ Lizzie explains. ‘Looking at the way that each of the characters reacts to the breakdown of this three-way friendship is fascinating.’
If you’re still uncertain whether or not to attend, the secret behind the staging alone should be enough to tempt you. ‘The Barron is going to be looking pretty different,’ says Lizzie. ‘I’m not going to give too much away!’
Art will be showing in the Barron Theatre from the 24th-26th November at 7.30pm. Tickets are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on the door. Lorenzo di Boni will play Serge alongside Graham Richardson as Yvan and Jocelyn Cox as Marie.
Image credits – photo by Rosie Jackson, poster by Gabrielle Laidlaw