A man in a blue shirt and dark vest stands left. A blond woman in sunglasses and a suit stands in the middle and a brunette woman stands right, also in sunglasses, facing them. Paintings behind them suggest an art gallery.
Creating ARThur Credit: Chad Gearig-Howe

When their brother Arthur dies, leaving behind to the world a lone splatter canvas from the heady foray into abstract expressionism that preceded his embittered art teacher years, Alex (Michael Appelbaum) and Andy (Rick Yaconis) decide to right fate’s wrongs and get the—to their minds—worthless and incomprehensible painting accepted to a prestigious gallery. This turns out to be a matter of playing the eminently playable art establishment, one stooge at a time.

Creating ARThur
Through 4/10: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, 773-975-8150, theaterwit.org, $15-$45.

The art world can handle a few jabs in the eye, but if all debut playwright (and Emmy-winning nature and travel TV host) Bill Ball’s show with Last Nerve Live offered was horseplay at art’s expense, it would drown itself out with sneering. Instead, even if the parts that seethe with contempt for painting and its connoisseurs get a little old hat, or worse, as they pile up, the intricacy of the scam provides enough satisfaction to largely offset that. Appelbaum seems to relish each new word in every new twist of his ploy, each kited check and shill bid, on its way out of his mouth, as do we. The phony provenance Andy and Alex concoct for Arthur’s work is a fun ride too, even if ditching the homely-sounding name Arthur Burns in favor of “de la Burns,” or posing as Austrian collectors with keen appetites for the work of this unfairly neglected master, didn’t seem entirely necessary, nor half as convincing as Ball’s parade of giddy, feeble-minded connoisseurs found them. Josiah Motok directs.