Art | Mercury Wings Theatre CompanyArt is an intellectual battle between two friends, Serge and Marc. They are fighting over the purchase of a rather simple painting, its worth and its meaning. An indication of the impact of this play and its words came from a female audience member, a few seats away me. During a particularly climatic scene, a character delivered a significant line that urged her to whisper “that’s challenging.” Her surrounding peers agreed with quiet vocal assurances. This play sparked so much thought within my own mind, and having read it prior to my viewing, I was interested to see how the production would highlight, emphasize and bring new meaning to it for me.

What struck me about this incredibly fast moving, complex, language heavy play, was that the production was responsible for the delivery of its very passionate debate. Every directorial choice, from staging to casting, was of great importance. Director Claudine Stephen-Smith can be proud of her efforts. This play needed a certain comedy in order to leave the audience satisfied. That is, if a director was to only embrace the dramatic elements of Art, I think audiences would leave exhausted and perhaps resentful of the argument thrown into their world. As a director, Stephen-Smith, evoked a cartoon-like atmosphere. She established this through the quirky and light-hearted sounds of talented musician Shanon D. Whitelock.  This musical choice had a great impact on the pace of the show, acting as a comedic foil at times, to the characters.

The ensemble was imperative to the success of this show. The three characters needed a particular contrast, and tension, in order to compliment the script. James Anderson, David E. Edwards and Vinnie Monaco were perfectly suited, if not perfectly capable of creating this contrast and tension. All 3 are to be commended on their ability to create distinct characters, and more importantly an interesting dynamic for the audience to watch. Monaco needs to be complimented on his epic re-enactment of a traumatic phone conversation/conflict between his mother, step-mother and fiancé. His comedic background shone through here, in a very memorable delivery. I would also like to mention a moment of gestus, whereby Edwards described the physical rudeness of Marc’s partner, Paula. For me, this was the funniest moment in the play and theatrically brilliant. Paula became a reality in that moment, a type of woman, and this gestus, a simple physical movement, achieved that. This gestus gave the argument or words at hand, all the more significance and offense. It was a beautiful moment that disclosed for me, the magic of theatre.

The choice to stage the show in the Gold Coast Arts Centre Gallery was inspired. The simplicity of the “art” in question was beautifully contrasted by a multiplicity of local artworks. If the audience at any moment forgot the ridiculousness of this painting, they only had to look up and around at their surroundings to remind themselves. Both the location and the choice to make it theatre-in-the-round essentially complimented the script. The many conversation-style monologues were enhanced by the close proximity to the audience and moments where Serge was asked where he planned to place his art was appropriately discussed around the already hung paintings.

All in all it was a piece of theatre that not only initiated debate in the audience, but used so many theatrical elements to create much-needed comedy. A true case of passion versus reason, presented in a humorous manner, with a strong ensemble cast, Art is hopefully not the last production of Mercury Wings Theatre Company as it is refreshing to see such positive professional theatre on the Gold Coast.

Mercury Wings Theatre Company presents
by Yasmina Reza

Venue: Gold Coast Arts Centre Gallery
Dates: 18 - 27 Oct
Time: Thurs - Sat @ 8pm
Tickets: $32 full $25 Concession
Bookings: 5588 4000

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