Art of the matter for St Albans theatre group

PUBLISHED: 16:11 04 March 2011

Left Trevor D Oakes as Marc, right Matt Broad as Yvan

Left Trevor D Oakes as Marc, right Matt Broad as Yvan

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THE past few weeks have seen some excellent productions on the local stage and now there is another one to add to their number.

OVO’s production of Yasmin Reza’s Art could really argue a case for being the best this year to date – and there is still a chance to see it at the company’s new theatre in Pudding Lane, St Albans, just off Chequer Street.

That the play with its analysis of male friendship is a classic is beyond doubt but it is the calibre of the OVO production which makes it stand out.

Director Jo Emery, who only made her directorial debut last year in OVO’s very commendable Married to the Sea in which she also performed, shows that she is multi-talented and has many strings to her bow.

She certainly brings out the best in her team of three actors who arguably give the performances of their lives.

Only Oscar Blend as Serge is relatively new to the St Albans stage – Matt Broad as Yvan and Trevor D Oakes as Marc are regular performers.

But the rapport between the trio in the three-hander and their understanding of the characters they play is excellent and deserves to play to packed audiences.

Art is nominally about a white painting bought by Serge and the impact its purchase has on his friends Marc and Yvan.

But it is really about the nature and value of friendship between non-gay men which has never been the subject of the numerous column inches friendships between women attract.

It is particularly amazing because it is written by a woman but then Reza is an extremely perceptive playwright. She also has a great ear for comedy and it is the humour in the play which lifts it so far above the ordinary.

All three actors are excellent in their roles – Trevor D Oakes is perfectly intense as Marc while Oscar Blend brings out the defiance of Serge.

Yet it is Matt Broad as Yvan who induces most of the laughter and stays in the mind because he gives a performance so spirited and clever that his role as the peacemaker/catalyst in the relationship between Marc and Serge puts him at the centre of everything that happens.

Art is St Albans theatre at its very best and it runs until Saturday. Performances begin at 8pm and tickets at £12.50 with concessions £7.50 are available from the box office on 07807 521436 or online at www.ovo.org.uk

MADELEINE BURTON


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