June 1, 2002



reviewed by
Lynn Trenning



















For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

(special to the Charlotte Observer)

Friendship and art are the fodder for questionable comedy and semi-amusing debate in the French play Art, directed by senior Jacob Pinion, and performed at the Black Box Theatre of the Northwest School of the Arts.

Written by Yasmina Reza, Art was translated into English by Christopher Hampton, and won the Tony in 1998. I fear something was lost in the translation.

The catalyst for Art is the purchase of a white, arguably non-descript painting by the cosmopolitan Serge, played by Northwest faculty member Corey Mitchell, for a significant sum of money. His friend Marc, played by Mike Collins, host of Charlotte Talks on radio station WFAE, reads an encyclopedia of innuendo into this purchase, and uses it to dissect the meaning of his friendship with Serge. Yvan, played by Lazaro Memije, chair of the Drama Department at Northwest, is a mutual friend who provides a comedic buffer between the two.

High spots in Pinionís directorial debut include his use of space in the Black Box. Placement of the acrimonious painting amidst the audience members allows actors to walk away from the tension on stage in regular intervals. Memije, a professional mime artist, has several fine squirming moments as he flips and flops on hard plastic furniture, seeking comfortable positions youíd think would be plentiful in a bachelorís apartment.

On the other hand, I could have done without Collins smacking on peanuts throughout his dialogue. Mitchellís consistent bungling of lines interrupted the development of his character. The lapses almost appeared to be a character trait; but not quite.

The analysis of friendship amongst men was refreshing. The parsing of vocabulary was amusing. Individual interpretations of the words 'deconstruction,' 'masterpiece,' and 'artist' became inflammatory.

Set Designer George Koraly assembled an interesting montage of pieces that juxtaposed the modern against the traditional. The couch and chair were the enticing color of soft peach fuzz, but were made of hard plastic. Royal purple cushions tied the fashionable Sergeís purple shirt to the traditional cornucopia painting on a doorway.

Take note that there is no evidence of the theatre from Beatties Ford Road. Turn on Celia Street, which runs next to the school, and take advantage of the back parking lot.

Lynn Trenning, June 1, 2002

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