Yasmin Reza’s ART that opened the season of KTS was embraced by a receptive audience, yet overall the show was hit and miss.
ART is about a white painting (that isn’t white) that changes the relationship of three men. It’s a brilliantly funny play about friendship and perception. The actors demonstrated the play’s high energy to a tee. Even the lighting matched the comedic pace; the spotlight asides were hilarious. Philippe Mesly, the lighting technician and Kathryn Brigdland, the lighting designer, should be commended just as much as the actors for their expert timing.
Directors Laura Gallagher-Doucette and Miranda Jones chose a tightly written, hysterical script. Yet they sometimes went for laughs that cheapened the humour. One example of this was the Serge’s strut. While actor Nicholas Gall struts on and
off the stage like nobody’s business, his flamboyant character distracted from the subtler humour. In fact, Gall failed on several counts. He rarely hit the comedic mark (his impression of Paula being an exception to this). Gall seemed to be going through the motions. He dropped the f-bomb like he was afraid of the word and I often wondered if he knew what his lines meant.
All the actors struggled with enunciation and speed. Clever lines or funny moments were lost. This was especially apparent with Yvan (Micheal Beedie)’s monologue. Beedie’s approach to the role was honest, believable and all his own. But his notable monologue was not what it could have been. Beedie rushed through it, not giving the audience the time to catch up. It was good, and we laughed, but an actor of his talent could have had us rolling in the aisles.
Thoby King, who played the arrogant Marc, was, like Beedie, a joy to watch. He held himself well, and had an individuality to his character. His delivery was deliberate and purposeful. That being said, there was no build to his emotions. This got tiring after a while. There is, after all, only so long you can watch two men shouting at each other. Regardless of these flaws, both King and Beedie carried the show. Their commitment to these outrageous characters was wonderful to watch.
And when they were on—boy were they on! Some highlights include the quieter moments when the three characters sat eating olives in silence. This was perfect: not overdone, not played down—they just rode the silence to brilliant effect. Yvan’s entrance (“YVAN RETURNS!”) could not have been done better. The delivery and timing were flawless and it had entire audience in stitches.
Overall all, I found the show frustrating because as it had such great potential. The actors were talented, the themes were complex yet accessible, the lighting was elegant and script was spot on. Yet the show as a whole didn’t quite follow through. For all this criticism, the play is worth seeing. It’s a fun, light show for anyone who wants a good laugh. But maybe not a great laugh.