By Savitha G R
Day two of the Deccan Herald Theatre Festival had the audience laughing, clapping, even hooting. ‘Art’ by theatre troupe Gnatak, directed by Prakash Aswani, is the tale of three friends. One of them, Serge buys a piece of ‘art’, a white canvas, which sets off a debate between his friends, Yvan and Marc. There are extreme positions taken on art, modernity and classicism, apart from introspection into the very nature of friendship between the trio.
The play, written by Yasmina Reza, was ‘discovered’ by actor Sean Connery, and was translated into English by Christopher Hampton. ‘Art’ poses quite a challenge to the director in portraying the dynamics of relationships and the contradictions between friends. The actors, Michael Joseph who plays Marc, Rohit Dave, who plays Serge and K T Abraham, who plays Yvan play their parts well. The audience takes to Yvan “the fool” particularly well. But one wonders if, in the midst of all the humour, the pathos that Yvan portrays is lost. Yvan wants to conform, be Mr Nice Guy to both his friends, and play conciliator. He cannot have a strong opinion, an amoeba in the words of his friend Marc, and he knows it. It saddens him, but does it move the audience, one wonders.
The set design by Gerard Sequeira is stark and simple, in keeping with the theme.
There is a certain whiteness everywhere, even in the metaphor that Marc uses towards the end of the play (a man skiing down a white mountain with a white cloud in the background) and that was very much in keeping with the central theme, the white canvas too.
The way the spotlight (Lights by Sudhir Boury) keeps shifting on the three characters when they talk to the audience is interesting.
But at the end of the play, one cannot but wonder if this play had more to do with Yvan and less to do with the tensions between the characters.