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Award-winning comedy will be a work of Art at Birmingham Hippodrome

By Dayna Farrington | Birmingham entertainment | Published:

Three men, three friends and one painting is the subject of a smash-hit comedy coming to the West Midlands.

One of the most successful comedies and winner of countless theatre awards, ART is heading to the Birmingham Hippodrome next week with three famous faces from the stage and television.

Denis Lawson, Stephen Tompkinson and Nigel Havers star in comedy

Acting icons Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson are reviving the Oliver, Tony and Moliere awarding-winning play for the play's 20th anniversary – and the trio were at the city's Ikon Gallery on Tuesday to launch it's week-long run at the Hippodrome.

Written by Yasmina Reza, the comedy is about the friendship between three old friends in Paris – Serge, Ivan and Marc – who find out they have different opinions on modern art. When Serge spends an extortionate amount of money on an all white modernist painting, his close friends Marc and Ivan are baffled.

Nigel, who plays art-loving Serge, said: "No one knew what the audience would make of it 20 years ago in the West End, the original actors were very wary about it – they did not think it was funny. On opening night, the painting was on stage and they did not know how the audience would react, but they all started laughing. The play got a fantastic reaction.

"I think it was one of the best comedy plays ever written – it really stands the test of time. It all starts with a great writer – and she has written this brilliant play about three men. Every night performing it is a total joy."

Denis, who has taken on the role of Marc, said: "It is a wonderful feeling. I want to get on stage every night and put it in front of the audience. You get such a reaction every time – it is a wonderful play to do.

"The play is very much about how we each perceive the world – we all see it in such different ways. It could be a piece of music, a movie or a person. I like that, but someone else can't stand it.

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"I saw the original production 20 years ago and when they asked me to do it, I read it and I loved it. I found it was a great tribute to the writing. I really love doing it."

Stephen, who is reprising his role as Ivan, said: "My character is stuck in the middle of the row about the painting between his two best friends. He is trying to be the peace maker.

"It is like a mental workout. The audiences are invested in this 25-year friendship so it has got to be believable. The play goes at such a pace, that you can't switch off.

"The play offers something for everyone. I am looking forward to bringing the show to Birmingham."

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Nigel said: "The threesome we have here, it's very magnetic – there's something about the three of us together that really works and the reaction from the audiences so far has been great.

"Anyone who comes to see the show in Birmingham will love it – and they will be in the pub by 9pm!"

Stephen added: "Still laughing about what they saw!"

ART comes to the Birmingham Hippodrome from Monday to Saturday, May 26. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 338 5000, or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com.

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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