Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 31, 2010


Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, MA
through August 7, 2010
by Shera Cohen

Chick flick, loosely defined, is a movie (perhaps a play) whose lead character is a woman and primary audience consists of females. The opposite might be said about “Art” – which is definitely a Guy Play. However, while women may have to drag their male partners to the movie/theatre, it is a pretty good guess that these men enjoyed what they saw. “Art” provides women equal enjoyment.

Friendship is at the crux of the story. Three men, each quite different from the others, are the protagonists. They talk about, fight over, philosophize, study, and laugh at one piece of art. Serge has spent a bundle on a large modern art painting by a pseudo-famous artist. He loves his purchase. His friend Marc hates it and tells Serge so. His other friend, Yvan, waivers on his opinion. The audience laughs at the trio, first in bewilderment and later at the raucous ridiculousness. Why? This supposed painting is solid white – white paint on a white canvas. The prop is far more than an unframed canvas; it is the playwright’s canvas on which to hang the relationships between the men as duos and as a trio.

Director Henry Wishcamper, along with help from his lighting designer, has set the quick pace of the plot of interaction coupled with numerous periodic soliloquies. Actors David Garrison (effectively feigning a highbrow character), Michael Countryman (nicely exasperated by the situation Marc is in), and Brian Avers (emotionally portraying a confused loose cannon) are completely in synch. The characters are intelligent, inquisitive, petty, hurtful, and supportive. Bits of jealousy are tossed about. They talk about each other in confidence, yet the audience eavesdrops, making for the humor of the story. “Art” is a 21st century version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” placed on a deeper level between individuals who could possibly be our own friends.

For anyone who has/had/will have friends, taking a microscopic look at male friendships is very pleasant for a change from the, perhaps, too many “chick flicks.”