From left, Carl Bowman, Ron Curameng and David A. Schmidt.
Courtesy of the Workhouse Theatre
Fairfax County's newest professional, non-profit theater company, the Workhouse Theatre opened its inaugural season with "Art" by award-winning playwright Yasmina Reza at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center.
"Art" raises provocative questions about what binds three male friends together when their strong differences of opinion regarding "what is art" seem to pull them apart and they turn on each other. Things are set off when one of the friends, Serge, buys a large, quite expensive painting that may or may not be completely white. One of the friends, Marc, is completely perplexed and totally horrified. He eagerly and forcefully voices his derision for the painting and relationships immediately begin to suffer.
Director Joseph Wallen has done commendable work in this debut of the new theatre venue, especially with the production technical aspects. He assembled a technical design team including Joe St. Germain, a Workhouse Arts studio artist and professional scenic designer. Audiences quickly get an awareness of what is to come. There is deliriously right, pre-show, Muzak-type instrumental music announced by a breathy, throaty French accented woman to set a jaunty mood. A lively apartment is on view with off-kilter walls, askew windows and doors providing for an overall helter-skelter appearance.
Wallen said that the show "seemed to be absolutely the right choice to produce for our inaugural season...Not only does the subject matter give a nod to our origins as a visual arts center, but it also opens the discussion about the nature of art, beauty and worth. Of course, the story runs much deeper, but the value and interpretation of the ‘infamous white-on-white painting’ serves as a catalyst for three close friends to examine their relationships over the course of a particularly stormy evening."
Where and When
"Art" at Workhouse Arts Center, 9601 Ox Road, Lorton, VA, 22079. Performances through Feb. 26. Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets: $20 for adults and $15 for seniors, students and military. Info and tickets at: www.WorkhouseArts... or call 703-584-2900.
The three-actor cast includes David A. Schmidt as Marc the antagonist of the evening's bumpy moments. He is nicely-played with smugness and snottiest and a flip of the hand demeanor. He is easy to dislike; which is exactly what his role calls for. Ron Curameng is Serge the owner of the infamous white painting. He finds a most unexpected way to show that friendship is more valuable than a piece of expensive art. Carl Bowman is Yvan, a friend squeezed into emotional breakdowns by the verbal assaults of the others. There were some dropped lines and stiffness the evening this reviewer saw "Art" that may have been anomalies, but did mar the production's punch.