When a wealthy art collector buys an expensive modern painting of a completely white canvas and asks his friend for his approval, he is taken aback with the less than complimentary response. What begins with an argument about what constitutes art soon develops into an argument about their differing value systems.
The two antagonists, Marc, a pedantic traditionalist (Simon Meredith) and his rich friend Serge (a strident Paul Nelson) begin to analyse their 15 year friendship, and entering this affray their hapless friend Yvan (Gareth Richards) immediately gets caught up in the semantics.
Director Bernard Dunleavy ensured that the pace was such that the tension created by the three characters was truly palpable and that it was only a matter of time before the combatants came to blows. Even the lighter moments injected by the put-upon Yvan were overshadowed by the malice and insults thrown around by all three characters.
With a set as blank as the canvas, the audience was able to focus on the arguments and the reality that many so-called friendships are sometimes based on false assumptions.
Three brilliant, powerful performances ensured that, where Arena's reputation is concerned, there is no necessity for arguments or assumptions.
- Linda Kirkman