The question is “What is Art?” The answer is, well… not that simple as you’d expect. It’s in the eye of the beholder right? Oh wait, that’s beauty. But, it’s sort of the same thing, yeah? In the eye of the beholder, be it beautiful Art or not so beautiful Art? Indeed, Art is subjective and even if you don’t like it or fully understand it, one could still conceivably consider it Art. But, we humans like to put a price or worth on things, and this is where it gets even trickier. Our value systems drastically vary. It’s not a terribly original idea that what is Art to one person is rubbish to another, but the play Art, presented by Northside Theatre Company, gives us a fresh and clever glimpse into how that statement may be a bit outdated or possibly entirely incorrect. Maybe everything IS Art, you just have to be able to see how it moves someone else, not  necessarily be moved yourself in order to be comfortable with the label “Art.”

It’s a broad topic to be sure and in general the topic of the play, along with the way the dialogue flows and it’s very clever and humourous full-circle-ending, is the most interesting thing about this production. The argument IS the real focus. Which is not to say the lovely scenic elements, staging, acting and subplot weren’t of a high standard or interest, it’s just that you somehow almost don’t notice it when paying attention to the plot advancing.

The cast, composed of three men, all have strong moments. My favorites were when they played genuine and real instead of letting the “caricatures” come out. All three connected very well with the audience during the exposition bits and interestingly enough contained significantly more realism in the acting during those parts than some of the interactions between each other on stage. There were times that bordered on a bit over the top or forced routines, but nothing offensively so. This is not a “real” play, it is abstract in places, so I may not be entirely fair in trying to put it in that frame as it were.

The scene transitions were “staged” with a sort of campy choreographed wink to them. Not my personal favorite however a totally consistent choice given the over all content of the piece and executed well. The play is short (just 35 minute first half) and easier to digest philosophically than you’d expect with such a  massive question being explored.

A pensive and pleasant 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for an intelligent evening of theatre that will leave certainly provide you with discussion topics as well as a smirk on your face at the end. Art plays at Northside Theatre through March 4th.

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