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Art – worth fighting for? – in Inverness theatre company's latest play

By Margaret Chrystall

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Caroline Nicol directs the latest play being performed by Inverness theatre group The Florians at their Florians’ Little Theatre from September 6 to 9. It’s a play Caroline saw performed in Aberdeen and realised it would work really well for the Inverness local theatre group.

It has some possibly surprising connections and it tells the story of friends divided by a very particular painting one of them buys. A pure white painting ...

Caroline talks about staging the play.

Opinion divided on the new painting with The Florians. Pictures: Matthias Kremer
Opinion divided on the new painting with The Florians. Pictures: Matthias Kremer

Q Why did The Florians choose the play Art to perform?

A The play is a French play written by Yazmina Riza and the writer Christopher Hampton was in France and he saw the play in Paris while he was there and he thought it would be great if he translated it. So when he came back to Britain, he asked his agent to look into acquiring the rights for the play, but the rights had already been sold to Sean Connery!

He was very enthusiastic about the play, but interestingly, he never appeared in it. He was the producer of many productions of it.

The first time I saw it was in Aberdeen and I didn’t know anything about it at all. The cast was Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tomkinson. It was done as a 90-minute, one-act play. I came out from seeing it and thought ‘This would be a great play for The Florians to do!’.

Q What happens in the play?

A Three friends have known each other for years, then one of them buys a modern piece of art – a white painting – and they fall out about it. The third person of the three tries to be the peacemaker and to see what the one who bought it sees in it. But they fall out and it is very funny and cleverly written.

The one who likes traditional art is niggled that his friend has spent 100,000 Euros on the painting. So the relationship goes downhill and there is a kind of twist at the end.

Q There was a delay in you getting to do it, I think?

A When I tried to get the rights there was a problem – the play was always out professionally on tour. During lockdown we thought we could try and do it online but couldn’t get it then either. But a few months ago we discovered that it was available! We just jumped at it and got the rights to do it.

Q The three friends, who plays them?

A It’s three old hands from The Florians. Alan Holling, Nicky Nicol and Trevor Nicol. They just bounce off each other.

From left – Nicky Nicol, Trevor Nicol and Alan Holling.
From left – Nicky Nicol, Trevor Nicol and Alan Holling.

Q What are the main challenges of the play?

A The set and scenery. The play takes place in three different apartments, mainly in the one owned by the man who buys the painting, but we do visit the other two as well.

The production I saw, they did it all on the one set and the only thing they changed was the painting. But we have managed to make it into three sets on the Florians stage. Allen Perrin, our stage manager, always comes up with great ideas.

Q The painting itself – have you employed an artist to paint a white painting?

A We bought a white canvas and our props lady, Lisa Senior, is the artist!

Q You have art on display see before the play begins?

A Because the play is quite short at just 90 minutes – and it goes straight through without an interval, we thought it might be nice to have an art exhibition in conjunction with it. So Alan Holling contacted the local art groups and one artist was very keen to do it, his name is Martin Irish. There is a link to it on The Florians website. He will be there himself before the play. We will open the doors at 7pm and people can see the art, buy some refreshments as there is no interval, and the raffle will run before the show. We will go straight into the play at 8pm!

Art by Yasmina Reza is presented by The Florians at the Florians’ Little Theatre from Wednesday, September 6-9. Tickets:

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