Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Red (The SOB Review)

Red (The SOB Review) – John Golden Theatre, New York, New York

**** (out of ****)

Abstract paintings created by artists such as Mark Rothko used to leave me cold. But that's largely because I never took the time to really study them closely or scrutinize their fluidity in movement.

That's forever changed now that I've seen John Logan's magnificent Red, masterfully directed by Michael Grandage. Imported directly from London's Donmar Warehouse, Red intrigues and titillates the senses with its potent examination of the internal conflicts Rothko (an excellent Alfred Molina) may have endured in accepting a commission to adorn the walls of the (then) new Seagrams Building's Four Seasons Restaurant with his works.

Molina portrays Rothko with a tortured, self-conscious brilliance that turns ferocious on dime, including on his young protégé Ken (a captivating Eddie Redmayne, in an absolutely stunning Broadway debut). When Ken presses Rothko on whether he has compromised himself in taking the commission, Rothko seeks to redeem himself by declaring contemptuously that what he's creating is "something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room."

Resplendent with a mesmerizing recreation of how this artist may have placed paint brush to his canvas, Grandage cleverly leaves nothing to the abstract in framing Rothko's lasting artistic expressions. At that point, just as one of Rothko's works now has a power to do, this enthralling play suddenly snuck up on me and sent chills down my spine.

Red is a masterpiece -- far and away, the best new play I've seen all year. Don't miss it.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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