‘Art’ launches theatre season

Kristen DiLeonardo

Villanova Theater’s first production of the 2004-2005 season lives up to the institution’s award-winning reputation. Many friendships are put to the test, for any number of reasons, but for art?

Yes, art – a piece of unusual, contemporary and very expensive art. I attended the Oct. 5 preview showing of “Art” and was pleasantly surprised. This thought-provoking examination of relationships is filled with explosions of repressed tensions. There is limited action but loads of dialogue among only three actors. Even if this type of drama is not for you, I highly recommend Yasmina Reza’s “Art.”

In a present day New York City apartment, the drama unfolds. A leather couch, glass table and modern black-and-white motif remain constant on stage. All that changes are the paintings on the walls.

Serge is a divorced dermatologist who has recently been lusting over contemporary art. Serge purchases an Antrios; this painting is white-or not white-depending on the viewer. This painting cost $50,000, which outrages Serge’s friend Marc. Marc is an aeronautical engineer, an enemy of modernism, and “breathtakingly arrogant.”

It is between these two friends that the tension builds and boils until they ultimately come to blows. Ivan, comic relief in the thick air of friction and hostility, is the constant victim of Serge and Marc’s attacks.

To add to Ivan’s woes he finds himself in a pressure cooker with his wife and a various assortment of mothers. Emotions run high in a whir of love, hate and jealousy. Each of these men blame the absurd white painting for their problems, but there is something deeper and more poignant under the surface.

The hard work and dedication that went into this performance is evident not only in the directing of Harriet Power but also in the superb acting of the three leads. Nick Falco, Josh Sauerman and Bob Bonocore are fantastic in their portrayal of the three friends. They do not have the easiest dialogue to work with and yet they make the language work.

The continuous cross-fire between the three is brilliant. As they truly become their characters audiences are able to feel sympathy for each man involved.

Falco’s portrayal of Marc as the swaggering, arrogant and judgmental friend of Ivan and self-proclaimed mentor of Serge is wonderful to watch. The other two men hate his pretentious laugh, but the audience loves it.

The charisma he brings to the stage has viewers hanging on his every word. The first-year graduate acting scholar’s theater credits include performances in “Parade,” “Don Juan,” “City of Angels,” “Chicago” and “Children of Eden.”

Sauerman delivers a compelling performance as Serge. His repressed emotions are conveyed through his asides to the audience.

I praised his performance as Leo Frank in Parade and once again he exceeds my expectations. His performances include “Goodnight Desdemona,” “Don Juan and Parade” (for which he received a 2004 nominated for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical).

As a second year graduate acting scholar Bonocore has also appeared in Villanova Theater’s “Summer and Smoke” and “Don Juan.” His other acting credits are quite extensive.

Bonocore’s enactment of Ivan is absolutely spectacular and extremely entertaining. The audience loves him and is prepared to laugh every time he opened his mouth. Not only is he hilarious but his dramatically emotional monologue is powerful as well.

There is something magnetic about this performance and for this viewer it was a spectacular theater experience. After experiencing “Art” you will find yourself questioning what art is exactly and who can judge.

But beyond the white 5×4 canvas splashed with white paint there is something deeper to be said, and I highly recommend stopping by Vasey and picking up a ticket to find out for yourself.

Congratulations on a job well done to all who put in their time and commitment to “Art.”