Art at the Old Vic is a breezy dissection of male friendships

 
Steve Dinneen
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Art at the Old Vic
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Perhaps it takes a woman to really grasp the nuances of the modern man. French playwright Yasmina Reza’s comedy about male friendship is so on the nose you can take any three of your man-friends and fit them neatly into the three archetypes so proficiently and entertainingly represented here.

Rufus Sewell plays Serge, a posturing dermatologist who has just splashed out €100,000 on a plain white, virtually invisible, painting. His old friend Marc (Paul Ritter) is furious he could be so in thrall to modernism, and both use poor, neurotic Yvan (Tim Key) as a proxy in their escalating war.

The painting is initially presented as an inherently ludicrous object (although there is one very similar by Robert Rauschenberg on display at the Tate Modern right now), but it soon becomes clear that the fault lines in this bromantic triangle far pre-date the dubious artwork.

There’s plenty of pathos in the dissection of male friendships, with their weird co-dependencies and fragile egos, but this is first and foremost a comedy, and one that, at just 90 minutes straight through, doesn’t labour its point.

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