ART Theatre Review: This comedic and thought-provoking piece of theatre is a dazzling study of friendship, prejudice and tolerance

Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson in ART

Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson in ART. Photo Credit: Jon Swannell

Comedic and thought-provoking, ART is a dazzling study of friendship, prejudice and tolerance

It’s easy to see why ART has become an international phenomenon. Currently on tour in the UK starring Stephen Tompkinson, Nigel Havers and Denis Lawson, this fantastic and innovative comedy is a dazzling study of friendship, prejudice and tolerance. No wonder it has won so many awards. 

ART centres around three friends, Serge, Marc and Yvan, who find their friendship shaken when Serge spends £200,000 on a white modernist painting. Marc is offended by the idea that the painting could be worth so much money and their differing opinions put a considerable strain on their friendship. Yvan’s attempts at peacemaking only serve to fuel the argument.

With Tompkinson, Havers and Lawson all on the cast list, the acting in this play is understandably phenomenal, with a monologue by Tompkinson standing out as a particularly impressive moment. His character Yvan interrupts the scene, ranting about the stress his impending wedding is causing and earning Tompkinson a well-deserved round of applause. His portrayal of Yvan is sweet and relatable and the audience can clearly see his point of view as he tries to appease both of his rowing friends.

Lawson gives an equally impressive performance as the arrogant and negative, yet surprisingly likable Marc, who voices what many of the audience is thinking but would not dare to say to a friend. Havers is also strong as Serge, the catalyst of the play, playing his quiet pretentiousness very well. All of the cast are superb and get their moment to shine, as well as delivering some incredibly funny lines.

The set is minimal but effective, ensuring that it is the actors that are the primary focus. The painting itself comes on and off stage, allowing the audience to see it from every angle and, as a result, each character’s point of view. This is done cleverly and subtly with the lighting design adding to the effect too.

Though the play is very comedic, it also has some quite sad, sombre moments. It asks the question: what is art and who has the right to decide whether something is art or not? Apparently, this particular question caused an argument in the audience during West End previews!

Overall, ART is an extremely enjoyable play with likeable characters. It’s easy to be drawn into their actions and the audience finds themselves wanting to watch more of this crumbling relationship.

Comedic and thought-provoking, this masterpiece will leave you talking about the show long after you’ve left the theatre.

5 out of 5 stars

ART runs at The Lowry until 31 March 2018. Ticket prices start from £15.50