What Is the Story of Red?
It is the late 1950s and Mark Rothko, the famous Abstract Expressionist painter, is at a crossroads in his career. Intellectual, controlling and often bombastic, Rothko is at work on a surprising (and very well-paid) commission: a series of murals to hang at the Four Seasons restaurant in Midtown Manhattan’s Seagram’s Building. The play takes place in Rothko’s studio, where he works with the help of a smart, young assistant. The action follows the artist’s struggle for integrity and understanding in the face of fame, self-questioning and impending irrelevance. Will his paintings survive in a place that represents everything—greed, commercialism, bourgeois comfort—he detests?
"A fresh, exciting portrait of a brilliant mind. The dauntless Mr. Molina gives his strongest Broadway performance to date. Possessiveness and perplexity glitter in his eyes like a fever. Mr. Redmayne’s Ken has a spine and a mind of his own, and you can feel both growing stronger throughout the play. Mr. Grandage is a canny craftsman of the theater, and he makes sure that the play’s intellectual arguments are sensually grounded."Review by Ben Brantley from The New York Times
"Finally a truly intelligent play on Broadway! Red is a compelling example of how a thinking theater can simultaneously entertain and educate. Molina and Redmayne are superb."Review by John Simon from Bloomberg News
What Is Red Like?
Red invites the audience into the artist’s studio, where there is always work to be done. As Rothko and his assistant prep canvases, mix paint and busy themselves with the daily tasks of creating massive works of art, we get a glimpse into the mind of the artist. The self-involved, cerebral painter’s world view is narrow in some ways, yet rich with emotional depth and mythic metaphors. Balancing this highbrow take on things is his assistant’s pragmatic approach to the work and intense study of his mentor and boss.
Is Red Good for Kids?
The intellectual discourse of this play is not a good fit for young children; they won’t appreciate it or understand it. However, artistically inclined and/or serious-minded ‘tweens and adolescents might find a lot to like in this tightly written study of an artist struggling with the idea of selling out. Parents with sensitive kids should note that there is a disturbing description of one of the character's parents' double homicide.