The two-man show opens at the Wyndham’s Theatre nine years after Michael Grandage directed the Donmar Warehouse premiere and its six-time Tony-winning New York transfer.
On an artist’s studio stage with stacked canvases and scarlett splatters, we watch Mark Rothko work on his most lucrative commission – and greatest moral challenge. It's 1958, and Rothko is working on a series of murals for New York's Four Seasons restaurant, preaching to his young assistant Ken about aesthetics, pulsing colours and the immersive relationship between viewer and artwork.
Alfred Molina as Mark Rothko and Alfred Enoch as Ken
Over a pacy 90 minutes the two men stare, contemplate and debate. Brief bursts of art interrupt the theorising; they paint with a balletic grace, emerging like blood-spattered, shell-shock soldiers from battle.
Both Alfreds give bravura performances, which keep the cerebral, solipsistic study of art and integrity crackling with energy. Molina’s Rothko merges an Apollonian need for order and significance and with a tragic streak of hypocrisy. He spouts theories, philosophies and poetry with eloquent intensity and his bushy brows shoot up with incredulity if ever young assistant dares to comment.
Enoch is an agile foil, darting around the stage to retrieve paints and dutifully playing along with the master/student dynamic until all the reservations and frustrations finally flow out.
For those with even the loosest interest in art, Red is a juicy, referential treat. But it’s also a portrait of youth and age, using artistic movements and tastes to illustrate the universal fear of aging, irrelevance and legacy.
Red is followed by a revival of Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore as part of a two-play season for Michael Grandage's theatre company.
|What||Red, Wyndham's Theatre review|
|Where||Wyndham's Theatre, 32 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
04 May 18 – 28 Jul 18, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£10 - £99|
|Website||Click here to book now|