Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Centre
Reviewed: Mar 28
During its six-year run until 2002 in London's West End, this dark comedy by French playwright Yasmina Reza had a host of celebrities in its cast, including Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott.
In this Hong Kong Repertory Theatre production (based on Jin Ziping's translation and directed by Weigo Lee), actors Poon Chan-leung, Chow Chi-fai and Sun Wai-keung take on the challenge - with varying degrees of success.
Despite its title, this 90-minute play has more to do with male friendship and bonding than art. Serge (Poon) spends a huge sum on a painting his friend Marc (Chow) thinks is rubbish. Their disagreement about whether the piece of contemporary art - a white painting with lines in various shades of grey - is worth the price leads to a major fall out. Mutual friend Yvan (Sun), a mouse of a man, steps in to try to salvage their friendship of 15 years, but only gets caught up in their dispute.
What's dressed up as a comedy is, in fact, Reza's slightly simplistic take on male pride, which when threatened, can turn men into sulky children.
Lee says in the programme notes that he didn't want the performance to be shallow entertainment, but both Poon, an expressive actor, and Chow lack the subtle arrogance that would make their characters (and their arguments) believable. Also missing is the sense of unease and sadness that characterises most relationship breakdowns. Meanwhile, Sun played the neurotic Yvan too much for laughs.
Jin's translation is too mild - it needs to pack plenty more punch to make the show convincing.
HK$150, HK$200. Inquiries: 3103 5900. Ends Apr 8