Art by Yazmina Reza, directed by Communication and Theatre Department Professor Wally Williams, is the most recent show to be put on by Salomon Theatre here at Point Loma. The show follows Sarah (Isabella Dempsey), Marsha (Leah Sharer), and Yvan (Sean Verbitsky) arguing about the quality of an art piece that Sarah has bought, which leads to a much greater discussion about their own friendship.
Being an almost entirely dialogue-driven play, there need to be strong performances so that there is a reason to stay in the theatre. Thankfully, each of the performances are great.
Leah Sharer gives her character, Marsha, who thinks she knows everyone else better than they know themselves, an arrogance that is evident yet subtle in the first scene, which transforms to a saddened, almost faux-arrogance and anger by the end of the first hour and to an apprehensive happiness by the end of the show.
Sean Verbitsky, who plays Yvan, jumps back and forth between reserved and manic extremely well and it’s really not hard at all to feel a great amount of empathy toward his character simply due to Verbitsky’s performance. He also provides several great moments of comic relief, especially with a monologue about halfway through the show.
I really felt the standout though was Isabella Dempsey, who played Sarah. The entire show hinges on her character being, what is essentially, a manipulator and Dempsey performs in a way that is manipulating the other two characters extremely well. She plays it like someone who doesn’t think she is doing anything wrong, but actually is, and she does it in such an understated (understated for theatre, that is) way.
Aside from their individual performances, the three have extremely great chemistry. They have a tremendous rapport with each other that, for the most part, felt very natural. The play is written in almost a stream of consciousness conversation style, which is how a lot of real-life conversations are. It can be hard for actors to pull off, but these three manage to feel authentic and natural and their exchanges really draw you in.
There are also several asides throughout the show that gives the audience an insight into how the characters are thinking in contrast to what they’re saying, and each actor is able to comedically pull off these asides very well. Not every joke lands, but most do and are quite funny.
While each of the actors in the show did a great job and they have a solid rapport, there are not problems leading up to the point that three are finally together. The set-up is slow and often felt repetitive, which is to no fault of the performers themselves because they are giving their all, but until they all are finally in the same room, the pace of the show is very slow.
Art has three more performances at Salomon Theatre, April 20-21 at 7 p.m. and April 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be bought at the door or online.