By Jeremy Miles

WHEN Art began gathering Best Comedy Awards,  its author Parisian playwright Yasmina Reza was astonished.

The simple fact was that she hadn’t realised that her sharply observed comment on the fragility and strengths of friendships was funny.

Unfortunately, whether she likes it or not, this tale of three men who come close to destroying a friendship that has lasted 15 years when they fall out over an all white painting, is packed full of humour.

After huge success in the West End with  ever-changing casts, this slickly written piece, intelligently  translated by Christopher Hampton is still packing ‘em in across the provinces.

The latest cast includes Christopher Cazenove as Serge, the buyer of the offending piece of minimalist contemporaray art, John Duttine as Marc who thinks his purchase is ridiculous and tells him says so  and Les Dennis as the anxious and dithering and peace-maker Yvan.

It’s a good combination and Duttine in particular is excellent as the outspoken and iconoclastic Marc.

 Cazenove too makes fine work of the affronted, angered and rather hurt Serge while comedian and gameshow host turned actor Les Dennis is an interesting choice as the desperately pragmatic Yvan. He is not as experienced an actor as his fellow cast members and it shows but  he is a natural stage performer and that pays dividends again and again. At one point he has an astonishing three minute, virtually punctuation free, rant. It is one of the highlights of the show and a brilliant example of the comedy that Reza didn’t know she had written. 

*Art plays Lighthouse at Poole until Saturday November 15.


© Jeremy Miles 2021