Make us your home page

Review: American Stage's 'ART' succeeds on witty dialogue, chemistry

From left, Ricky Wayne, Gavin Hawk and Brian Shea are three friends who fight over a piece of art in ART.

Photo by Chad Jacobs, American Stage

From left, Ricky Wayne, Gavin Hawk and Brian Shea are three friends who fight over a piece of art in ART.

ST. PETERSBURG — ART, now playing at American Stage Theatre Company, has been described as a "slender" play, referring both to its running time just under 90 minutes and its lack of a traditional plot.

Both are true: It's a short play without intermission and not much happens during that time except a lot of sparring between three old friends. So its success depends of the quality of the dialogue and the chemistry between the three actors delivering the lines.

Gavin Hawk, Brian Shea and Ricky Wayne, under the direction of Todd Olson and Michael Edwards, are all equal to the witty, often hilarious lines delivered at crackling speed or with well-timed pauses that delve into their unraveling friendship. Slender ART may be, but lightweight it isn't.

The hook on which the play hangs is a white painting purchased for $200,000 by Serge (Hawk), a divorced dermatologist. Marc (Wayne), a married aeronautical engineer, is aghast and angry over the acquisition, believing it to be an expensive joke. Yvan (Shea), a paper salesman about to be married, is a mild-mannered mediator whose opinion tends to change with the company.

You might well wonder, as Yvan does, why Marc takes the acquisition so personally. As Yvan says, "If it makes him happy...." But Marc will not be mollified, and his criticism escalates to the level of spiteful and personal vitriol that eventually includes Yvan.

It should surprise no one that the white paint covers deeper issues: the rift between Marc, who has been the "cool guy" and mentor but who feels Serge is moving on, and Serge, who wants to assert some independence from Marc. And Yvan, who is tired of being considered the buffoon whom the other two can insult at will. In today's parlance, it's bromance gone south.

Wayne's Marc has some of the best lines and delivers them with nuanced gestures and facial expressions. He makes popping homeopathic pills an art form. I also had some sympathy for him because Hawk's Serge is a condescending, overly suave snob. And for his irritation with Yvan, who is beleaguered and spineless until he rips into a scenery-chewing monologue in the last third of the play. But Marc tries our patience, too, though he is self-aware enough to understand that his behavior is irrational.

It also should surprise no one that the three work things out but (no spoiler) the way they do is artful and sweet. Marc has the first and last words of ART, and they are near perfect.

I questioned at first the set, which is dominated by colorful pieces of studio glass (for sale, by the way) that seemed anomalous to Serge's white painting. But it subtly plays into Marc's utter bafflement because it shows us visually that Serge had previously collected art that was accessible and suddenly comes home with something completely different.

Jerid Fox's design with sleek furniture in a loft-like setting is appropriately evocative of IKEA and Megan Byrne's lighting provides the transitions between characters' points of view. Adrin Erra Puente makes good use of clothes as personality descriptions: Serge's suits and well-ironed dress shirts, the studied off-handedness of Marc's academia separates, and Yvan's bedraggled and rumpled pants that never quite fit.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at or (727) 893-8293.

.if you go


The play, by French playwright Yashmina Reza and translated by Christopher Hampton, continues at American Stage Theatre Company, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg, through Sept. 8 in rotation with My Name is Asher Lev. Shows are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and Tuesday; 3 and 5 p.m. Sunday; 3 and 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $29-$39; pay what you can 8 p.m. Sunday. or (727) 823-7529.

Review: American Stage's 'ART' succeeds on witty dialogue, chemistry 08/12/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 5:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador


    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25


    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24


    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  4. Bar review: Les Partners Lounge goes old-school in Clearwater

    Bars & Spirits

    There are some local places that I'm shocked aren't more well known, and I think that's the result of a general aversion to stepping out of one's comfort zone. I make regular concerted efforts to step outside of mine, which often leads me to strange and rewarding drinking establishments.

    Les Partners Lounge is an old-school, smoker-friendly cocktail lounge and live music venue tucked away in a nondescript shopping plaza in Island Estates.
  5. Local craft beer of the week: Plongeur a L'eponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. has a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to wild ale brewing, utilizing an open brewing approach involving uncovered fermenters in order to brew beer with local ambient microbes, reminiscent in some ways to the fermentation techniques used by rustic farmhouse breweries in Belgium …

     Plongeur a?€š€™L?ˆš??ponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, 6/23/17  Electric Chair Sour Shandy, Angry Chair Brewing, 6/30/17   Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Motorworks Brewing 7/7/17