Billed as “one of the most successful comedies ever”, we were intrigued by the cast of just three actors – Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson – certainly an interesting combination for a comedy!
The title does not give much away either. Are they artists? Is it about their artistic creations? The set is a very smart apartment, expensive, in the middle of Paris, and scene changes are minimal based on the middle panel on the back wall really. The crux of the play is The Painting, a fascinating example of modern art by a famous artist of late 20th century. Yes, you’ve guessed it – a large canvas painted white, with white lines and stripes, and no border to distract the eye, and at £200,000 the butt of the joke throughout.
Brilliant reactions, discussions of art and gullible purchasers, and interactions between two of them when a third is not present. I have to say I never knew Stephen Tompkinson (DCI Banks on TV) could be funny, but he was hilarious!
It is a great play translated by Christopher Hampton from the original by French playwright Yasmina Reza, first performed in London in 1996, so not a new play. It has been on tour since February 2018 ending in Canterbury on 9th June, so we were lucky to see it at Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff on 31st May. This is a beautiful theatre, the perfect choice of seats being Row N in Raised Stalls, and an afternoon performance is always a good option.
It was a great choice of these three actors who worked flawlessly together. Look out for it if it goes on tour again in the UK.