An all-white painting unsettles a trio of friends.

Watching Art (at Playhouse on the Square) is like watching an episode of Seinfeld. It's a lot of sturm and drang spilt over absolutely nothing, and therein lies its charm. It's about three old friends who have a massive falling out after one of them spends a small fortune on an all-white painting by a trendy artist. Because the object that inspires the argument is a work of art the assumption is that the audience is being exposed to some kind of high-minded debate about modernism. Nothing could be further from the truth. That's the show's biggest joke. The playwright could have easily substituted the word car, guitar, or tea service for "painting" and sold the script to Jerry and the boys without changing much of the dialogue at all. In fact the artwork in question could have been a floozy acquired for the purpose of staving off a middle-aged crisis. The story, a time-honored one, would have remained the same. Ken Zimmerman, Playhouse on the Square's former artistic director, has returned to take on the role of Serge, an art collector who wants nothing more than to be thought of as a man of his time. Though on occasion he mugs it up for the audience while fawning over his controversial painting, Zimmerman is quite effective. He brings an innocence to Serge's modern pretensions that makes even the character's most boorish qualities quite charming. Michael Detroit does a little mugging of his own, but he is likewise exonerated by his otherwise fine performance as Yvan, a middle-aged victim of therapy, self-help, and troublesome in-laws. Dave Landis gives one of his most memorable performances to date as the cynical Marc, a man who cannot love a friend who could love a white painting. Certain without being smug, judgmental without being malicious, Marc is the voice of the true critic. While he pronounces his judgment with finality there is always the distinct sense that he wants nothing more than to be proved wrong. Through September 23rd

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