When art and friends collide

Fine white lines upon a white background - there’s little else to the painting Serge just paid 200,000 francs for. To Marc, his friend’s purchase is not only an assault on good taste but a personal affront. The third man in this triangle, Yvan, has other things to worry about – namely, a looming wedding and a job as a stationery salesman that he hates. While all Yvan wants is for everyone to get along, by alternating between laughing with Marc and agreeing with Serge, he only succeeds in escalating the conflict. The result is a play that is about more than what makes for good ‘art’ but the illusions and collusions that allow friendships to survive – and what happens when they begin to fall apart.

1998 was the year of Yasmina Reza’s ‘Art’ – the play won several awards including the Evening Standard Award and the Laurence Olivier Award for the Best Comedy, the Molière Award for Best Commercial Production, the New York Drama Critics' Circle award for Best Play and to top it all off, the Tony Award for the Best Play.

In July, a production of ‘Art’, translated into English by the well-known British playwright Christopher Hampton, comes to Colombo. A.S.H. Smyth, Jehan Mendis and Shanaka Amarasinghe will appear in it at the British Council auditorium, July 1-3 (7:45 p.m.). The production is presented by Broken Leg Theatre Company, in partnership with the British Council, sponsored by Lankem, and produced by Nisrin Jafferjee. Tickets are available at Barefoot.

Meet the cast

Shanaka Amarasinghe: First appeared in Playing Doctor at S. Thomas' College directed by Vinodh Senadheera. Subsequently in Seneka Abeyratne's Virgo Intacta and Alfred Jarry's Ubu Rex (both dir. Tracy Holsinger). He has played Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, and appeared in Michael de Soyza's Ropes of Sand and Checkpoint: Three Strangely Normal Plays directed by Ruwanthie De Chickera which toured Chennai. Other roles include: Colonel Chesney in Charley's Aunt, the murderous politician in Delon Weerasinghe's award – winning Thicker Than Blood, and the old blind poet in A Poet, A Puppet and Papadam performed by the University of Colombo.

He also played Frank Strang in Equus and most recently performed in If I Were You an adaptation directed by RADA's William Scott Richards for the 60th Anniversary of the British Council.
A.S.H. Smyth: Played major roles in Oliver and The Threepenny Opera, was a leading soloist in the Oxford University Gilbert & Sullivan Society (The Mikado; Iolanthe; Princess Ida), and performed rather lesser roles in professional productions of Peter Grimes, La Boheme, and the Evening Standard award-winning Street Scene at the Young Vic.

He has played bit-parts in several comedies, and his right hand appears in the film adaptation of Tony Hawks’ Round Ireland With A Fridge (holding a Guinness). He is also an arts critic.

Jehan Mendis: Played the mega-role of Salieri in Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus. Was in Samurai and Looking Thru My Earphones (dir. Tracy Holsinger), both of which were staged at the British Council. He has also helped to co-devise and act in a comedy revue, Ubersausage, which was performed at Warwick University, the Canal Café Theatre in London, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

He played a minor role in Deepa Mehta’s film adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight’s Children. A finalist in Mind Adventures’ Act Before You Think 2010 improv. competition.

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