Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Art by Yasmina Reza, 5 x 4 Productions, Preas Theatre, Austin High School, February 3 - 12

Joe Reynolds in Art, Yasmina Reza, 5 x 2 Productions

The French, oh, the French -- I squirmed often while watching 5 x 2 Productions' staging of Yasmina Reza's Art, because she captures with deadly accuracy the most galling aspects of the Gallic character.

You may well laugh at the absurdities of the premise and the reactions of the characters. Serge, a dermatologist, is proud of the painting by a fashionable artist that he has just purchased for "two hundred thousand" -- those are 1995 French francs, so roughly $40,000, not quite as much as you might initially think, but even so a high pricetag on a canvas covered with white paint.

Serge (Kyle Odom) smirks and adores the concept, the fashionable artist, and his own daring in laying out that much for art. His long-time friend Marc (Billy Dragoo) is appalled. Marc can't resist an oh-so-French campaign of intellectual attack, initially against the art piece and then inexorably against the aesthetic it represents and before too long against Serge himself. That would be a fruitless joust if Reza had left it there, but she has the good sense to introduce a third friend in this tight little circle -- Yvan, no intellectual at all, a big puppy of a man full of self-doubt and open emotion.

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