Entertainment & Arts

Rufus Sewell says role in Art was 'very inconvenient' for family

Rufus Sewell in Art Image copyright Manuel Harlan
Image caption Sewell plays Serge, a man whose purchase of an expensive painting shocks his closest friends

Rufus Sewell has joked that starring in Art in London is "very inconvenient" - as it required moving his loved ones across the Atlantic for Christmas.

The actor, who was in Los Angeles when he was offered the role, said he knew he was going to star in the Old Vic production two pages into the script.

"When you read something that great the decision's already made," he continued.

Art, in which three friends fall out over the purchase of a painting, runs until 18 February.

Sewell, who last appeared in the West End in 2013, said he would not have done the show had his young daughter not been able to join him in London for Christmas.

"I couldn't have taken the job if that hadn't happened," he told the BBC this week. "It's the most important thing for me."

The 49-year-old also revealed there were "limited possibilities" for him to reprise his role as Lord Melbourne in the second series of ITV's regal drama Victoria.

Cast changes

The original London production of Yasmina Reza's Art opened in 1996 with Sir Tom Courtenay, Albert Finney and Ken Stott.

The play went on to be staged on Broadway and translated into 20 languages.

Regular cast changes, meanwhile, kept it running in the West End until 1999.

Director Matthew Warchus said enough time had now elapsed for the show to be brought back at the Old Vic, where he is artistic director.

"We're at the point now where we've left enough time," he told the BBC after Tuesday's press night.

"We've got actors the right age who were never in it, and people in the audience who have never seen it."

Image copyright Manuel Harlan
Image caption Tim Key and Paul Ritter complete the cast of Warchus's 20th anniversary production

Paul Ritter and Tim Key join Sewell in what Warchus describes as "a play about men's dysfunctional way of relating to each other".

"It looks like a well-behaved boulevard comedy on the surface, but it is actually quite violent, wild and passionate," he continued.

'Finely shaded'

Reviews of Warchus 's production have been broadly positive, with the Guardian applauding what it called a "finely shaded character study".

"A play that in 1996 eventually turned into a revolving door for celebrities can now be seen in all its complex purity," wrote critic Michael Billington.

The Times said the play felt "absolutely spanking fresh", while the Independent praised the "elegant lightness of touch" of Warchus's direction.

The Evening Standard felt the show was "slightly underwhelming" but concluded it still made for "an agreeable divertissement".

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