When Abstract 'Art' Pulls Friends Apart

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Serge (Jeffrey Bracco), Marc (Kit Wilder), and Yvan (Max Tachis) in City Lights Theater Company's production of Yasmina Reza's 'Art.' Photo: Mike Ko / siliconvalleydesigns.com.

With plenty of drama in the real art world, it was a smart move by French playwright and novelist Yasmina Reza to write Art as a comedy (so smart, in fact, that it won the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play). Comedy only works if the foundation is built upon truth and the truth is art is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. In this case, Serg pays an extraordinary amount for an all-white painting by a flavor-of-the-month artist, which his friend Marc hates and Ivan is indifferent to (as with most things in his life.) The play evolves beyond determining the value of an artwork into questions about the value of friendship when hot buttons are pushed and ideals are chasms apart.