Enjoyable Work of 'Art' at Brumder Mansion
Yasmina Reza’s Art is a tight, well-balanced little drama as Milwaukee Entertainment Group coaxes the contemporary one-act into the basement of the Brumder Mansion for an enjoyable production with a great cast. A soft-spoken and thoughtfully imposing Mark Neufang plays Serge, a man who has paid a small fortune for a painting that’s so white and indistinct that it may as well be a blank canvas. The prop painting itself lacks the white detailing against a white background that’s referenced in the script and bears a rather awkward functional splotch in the upper right-hand corner that mildly distracts from an otherwise satisfying show.
Randall Anderson unearths a great deal of whimsical gravitas in the role of Marc, a friend of Serge’s who sees his purchase of the painting as a personal insult. Anderson is quite believable as an intellectual conservative who obsesses over Serge’s bizarrely inexplicable decision to buy the painting. There’s a thin veneer of civility between both characters that often buckles and explodes into anger. Neufang and Anderson weave a compelling intellectual and emotional dynamic between the two characters that serves as the central conflict in a story that balances intellectual and philosophical conflict between conservatism and progressive aesthetics against a more social and interpersonal conflict between two people.
Chris Goode is thrust in between the two men in the role of Yvan, a timid, soon-to-be married man frozen into a career in stationery. Goode is respectably fragile in a role that allows him one epic monologue in which to truly explode. Goode makes great use of this opportunity in one of the most dazzling overtly comic moments in a largely satisfying production.
Through May 20 at the Brumder Mansion, 3046 W. Wisconsin Ave. For tickets, visit milwaukeeentertainmentgroup.com.