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Saturday, June 26, 2010


So, I realize I have a tendency to endorse shows right as they are about to close (this one closes on Sunday, even after winning the Tony for Best Play. Let's not talk about it), but I just had to express the incredibly visceral experience I had watching Red last night. Just two actors (playing Mark Rothko and his assistant) in a painting studio discussing, and living, art. The play deals with the "what is art?" question with an intelligence that does not alienate an audience who may not be too knowledgeable about modern art (me!), but draws them in without mercy.

The seamless blend of incredible design (stunning lights, moving music, and the paintings, oh the paintings, which become characters in their own right, breathing, vulnerable...) and brilliant performances by both Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne touched a whole theater of people who were audibly as moved as I was, and who sprang to their feet as the last beautiful picture was swallowed into black, realizing a fear confessed by Rothko that I couldn't help but share as I sat there thinking, "Don't let it end, don't let it end." What I could only describe as pure honesty emanated from the stage as a canvas was primed before our eyes, colors were mixed and frames were hammered together on stage, and emotions were left on the floor with the splattered paint.

Rothko's assistant, Ken challenges that "not every painting has to rip your guts out and expose your soul" but this play did exactly that, leaving me in tears by the end. It's a shame that a play that considers so well what it is to appreciate art and what it is for art to be appreciated, a reflection that can be applied to both painting and theater in the same moment on that stage, has to close when millions of dollars are being wasted on poorly produced tourist-trap shows, but I'll get off my soap box and just appreciate the art that is this play and this production, and urge you to RUN AND SEE THIS if you get a chance!

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