Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Blank Canvas Theatre
Review by Mark Horning | Season Schedule

Also see Mark's reviews of The Pride, The Phantom of the Opera, The Velocity of Autumn, and The Taming of the Shrew

Chris D'Amico, Michael N. Herzog, and Brian Pedaci
Photo by Andy Dudik
In Yasmina Reza's French play Art, translated by Christopher Hampton, Serge (Chris D'Amico) has purchased an example of "exceptional modern art." When he proudly unveils it to his friend of fifteen years Marc (Brian Pedaci), he is crestfallen when his closest friend dismisses the painting as "a piece of white shit." The painting is completely white, with barely discernible thin diagonal white lines and a horizontal faint white line across the bottom. When Serge informs Marc of the purchase price of $200,000, which he believes can return a $20,000 profit, Marc cannot hold back his laughter, and a giant fracture in their friendship has begun.

Enter Yvan (Michael N. Herzog), who for the fifteen years of the trio's relationship has been the sycophant of the three trying in vain to keep everyone civil. This unhappy yes-man is now facing his own crisis. For the first forty years of his life, Yvan has worked a number of menial jobs just to survive. He has recently landed a white collar job at a stationery firm owned by his fiancée's uncle that hinges on the completion of the nuptials. It is a job that Yvan considers more of a prison sentence than employment. Happy-go-lucky Yvan suddenly finds himself embroiled against his will in the trivial battles that precede all weddings, such as who will appear on the announcements. At this phase in his life he has neither the patience nor the strength to play nursemaid to two childish combatants fighting over what is art.

At first, Yvan meets alone with Serge and heaps high praise on the painting, claiming to see colors that are not there just to appease his friend and justify the expense, which happens to be more than he has earned in his lifetime. Trouble erupts when the three meet for a movie and dinner. An argument over "the white" escalates as the three begin finding faults in all aspects of each other's lives that have been simmering unresolved for many years. At one point the argument gets violent, forcing Serge to do an unspeakable act in order to save their friendship.

This is one of those Godot-ish plays that flows like a slow-moving river. Just as the featured white painting with its pale, barely visible lines, one must carefully examine up close in order to perceive its meaning. It is not so much about what art is, as it is about friends trying to save themselves from themselves, but using the wrong techniques to do so.

The set by Patrick Ciamacco must be noted. While minimalist in its own right, it features a large rolling three-sided wall that is positioned prior to each scene to represent each of the three apartments. Brilliant.

Chris D'Amico as Serge carefully plays a man trying to buy his way into the worlds of art collecting at the price of abandoning his friends of many years. Brian Pedaci as Marc well plays the more worldly wise friend who knows a con when he sees it, but uses a hammer when a silk glove would work to a more advantageous degree. Michael N. Herzog is perfect as the hapless jester trying to keep the two entertained and away from each other's throats as the arguments spirals out of control.

What is art? What is its value? Can a white painting really be more valuable than fifteen years of friendship? Three friends battle tooth and claw over a white painting that is valued more for who created it rather than its content. Can there be any winners in this conflict? Come see for yourself.

Art, through April 20, 2019, at Blank Canvas Theatre, 1305 W 80th St. Suite 211, Cleveland OH. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (440) 941-0458.

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