Another play at the Clarence Brown Theatre, but is it ‘Art’?

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‘Broadway hit’ means very little to me. I don’t care if something was a hit somewhere else at some point in time. I’ve seen marketing professionals pile on all forms of adjectives to get my attention (one organization is currently marketing a ‘Broadway-style’ performance in Knoxville). But…for what it’s worth ‘Art’ was a hit on Broadway before arriving in our friendly town.

The play focuses around three male friends (not only focuses around, the play is made up of only three male characters and a very simple set with some expensive chairs). The Cliff’s Notes version of the play is as follows: one of the friends buys a horrible piece of art (a white painting on a white background) for an extraordinarily high price and the friendships come under question. The guise of the play is ‘What is art?’ but in this viewer’s opinion the heart of the play is “What is friendship?”

The production is insightful and often laugh-out-loud funny. The performances by John Forrest Ferguson, Guiesseppe Jones, and David Brian Alley are admirable. David Brian Alley as ‘Yvan’ goes into a five-minute rant that is worth the price of admission.

The language is a little harsh at times, harsh enough to raise some eyebrows. The truth of the matters is, however, that this harsh language brings realism. The language is at home in the banter of these three gentleman.

A play like this rarely comes along. I find it hard to explain exactly why I enjoyed it so much; maybe it’s partially due to the horrible fodder that Hollywood has churned out over the past months. This is one production that deserves to close with the term ‘Knoxville hit’ attached to its name. Leave the younger ones at home, but don’t miss the chance to see this excellent performance.

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‘Art’ runs from August 30th through September 14th. Ticket information is available through the Clarence Brown Theatre Box office at 974-5161.