When Marc (Philip Kazen) questions the logic of Serge's (John O'Neill) acquisition, another question arises: What do we value and why? While Serge maintains that the canvas brings him joy, Marc argues that it is "shit" purchased purely for fashion. This question of value is pursued to the point of evaluating the friendship's value, and what each friend stands to gain from the relationship. Ivan (Bill Gundry), the reluctant mediator, weighs in comically on both sides, remaining neutral until both sides turn on him.

In Art, Reza has created a stage that relies solely on the power of its words and players. The Tony Award-winning play was scripted with no need for elaborate sets, costumes, or plot twists. The entire action of the show takes place in sparsely furnished interiors through discussions with the three friends.

The cast of seasoned San Antonio actors excels in delivering the weighty dialogue with a natural flippancy. Text that an overly dry delivery might render insincere is presented as believable conversation. Audience members are flies on the wall in the intimate space, which is best used when cast members acknowledge the "flies" in candid monologues.

Gundry outshines his fellow cast members in his ability to break the fourth wall and truly connect with the audience in these moments, while Kazen and O'Neill simply mimic genuine interaction. A little eye contact - or lack of it - in a confined space communicates more than words. That is not to say that Kazen and O'Neill don't carry their own weight as performers. All three men create complete and complex characters with differing, yet sympathetic viewpoints.

Like the mysterious monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the enigmatic artwork inspires violence in some and awe in others. What an entitled man might view as evolutionary, a more common man might call snobbery. Ultimately, every choice that an individual makes which serves a purpose beyond survival (food, shelter) is vanity. Because choices separate and join us as human beings, taste can divide people as much as class, race, and gender. Art, the play, exemplifies this principle in that its appeal to an intellectual audience also alienates those who define monster truck rallies as entertainment. To each his own?

8pm Friday, 7pm Saturday, 2:30pm Sunday
Through February 1
$15 adult, $13 seniors & military, $11 students
San Pedro Playhouse Cellar Theatre
800 W. Ashby at San Pedro, 733-7258