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  Red at Arena Stage


Arena Stage
1101 Sixth Street, SW Washington

A visceral, “superbly taut” (Chicago Tribune) battle of wills, Red (winner of six Tony awards, including Best Play) drops you squarely inside the world of painter Mark Rothko and sets your heart pounding. At the height of his career, Rothko struggles with a series of grand-scale paintings for NY’s elite Four Seasons restaurant. When his new assistant challenges his artistic integrity, Rothko must confront his own demons or be crushed by the ever-changing art world he helped create.

Thru - Mar 11, 2012

Price: $40-$85

Running Time: 1 hour,40 mins with no intermission

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  Red Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Washington Post - Highly Recommended

"...The pleasure of the interlude, as constructed by playwright John Logan and conducted by director Robert Falls, is in the way it conveys the full, symbiotic immersion of the characters: Gero’s Mark Rothko, the vain, abrasive creator of all those mesmerizing canvases of migrating mood and undulating color, and Andrews’s Ken, a composite of the assistants who toiled in Rothko’s Manhattan studio throughout his working life, which ended in suicide in 1970."
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Peter Marks

Washington Examiner - Recommended

"... Throughout "Red," Rothko talks about his paintings as though they can communicate with the viewer. And Keith Parham's lighting design makes that happen, bathing a few pseudo-Rothko paintings in gentle light, creating the luminosity that so many art critics talk about when they discuss Rothko's works. The final image in "Red" is of Rothko standing in front of a red painting that clearly seems to pulsate and glow."
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Barbara Mackay

Baltimore Sun - Highly Recommended

"... The production, directed with considerable nuance by Robert Falls, offers many a startling image, from the sudden burst of light early on to the moving coda bathed, of course, in red (Keith Parham designed the superb lighting). The scene where Rothko and Ken vigorously prepare a canvas with quick brush strokes is a deliciously wry, complete with a cigarette afterward, and is executed here quite brilliantly.
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Tim Smith

DCist - Recommended

"... The script, by the playwright and screenwriter John Logan, is full of rants, and, perhaps reflecting Logan’s frequent Hollywood work (Gladiator, The Aviator, Hugo) it moves a bit too quickly at times. But Robert Falls’ direction steadies the pace, allowing us to soak in Todd Rosenthal’s wondrously tangible set, all dusty and rusty, perfect for a painter who says he revels in the absence of natural light. And, while talking luminescence, let us not forget Keith Parham’s lighting job, which manages to make stage replicas of Rothko’s darkest period glow as if you were viewing them at the National Gallery of Art."
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Benjamin Freed

MetroWeekly - Highly Recommended

"... Logan's treatment of Ken as a composite character (representing Rothko's many assistants) does give the playwright a bit too much room at times for melodramatic license. Ken, covered in red paint after ecstatically priming a huge canvas with Rothko, reveals the details of a violent tragedy that left him orphaned and doesn't make as much literal sense as it should. And when he later finds a drunken Rothko collapsed on the floor, arms soaked in red paint, it's a heavyhanded allusion to the circumstances of Rothko's suicide in 1970."

Jonathan Padget

WeLoveDC - Recommended

"... You don’t need to know anything about Rothko to enjoy the play. In fact, it may encourage you to learn more. I still remember my first reaction to Rothko as a young girl standing in front of a painting at the MOMA – somehow I was angry, so angry, livid almost, turning my back on modern art for a long time afterwards. After seeing this play, I devoured Rothko research and planned a visit to the Rothko Room at the Phillips and the Seagram mural exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. I realized my childhood reaction was an emotional reaction to color and shape that unnerved me, and that was a reaction Rothko would have understood. If the best response to a play is to challenge you, to send you on another voyage of discovery, then Red has done its work."
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Jenn Larsen

BroadwayWorld - Highly Recommended

"... The play not only deals with the work, the process, and the philosophy of the artist, it deals with relationships. After being together for two years, Ken finally has the chutzpah to mention that the artist knows nothing about him."
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Charled Shubow

Talkin Broadway - Highly Recommended

"... Robert Falls' taut direction and Logan's literate script keep the audience fascinated for the play's 100-minute length (no intermission), but Gero's galvanizing portrayal is its core. Just as Rothko built his paintings bit by bit and level by level, integrating tension among the colors that becomes more obvious the longer a viewer examines them, so does Gero bring out the contradictions of the painter."
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Susan Berlin

City Paper - Recommended

"... The Goodman Theatre co-production, in Arena’s traditionalist Kreeger space, turns on a moment in which the two men attack a huge expanse of fresh canvas with the blood-red primer that will make it a suitable starting point for a new project. It’s a kinetic visualization of the collision of physical and rational, passionate and cerebral, instinct and discipline—there’s a certain amount of faff in the play about how the Appollonian and the Dionysian meet in the character of Rothko—and it’s a fairly thrilling coup de théâtre that leaves both men panting, spattered with red. Sexy beasts, those artists, at least when they’re getting on with the work."
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Trey Graham

Washingtonian - Highly Recommended

"... It’s a testament to the skills of director Robert Falls that he achieves the seemingly impossible in Red, currently playing at Arena Stage—he makes spellbinding theater out of watching paint dry. During one tumultuous scene in the middle of the play, Mark Rothko (Edward Gero) and his assistant, Ken (Patrick Andrews), cover a canvas with paint as if possessed, working in silent, furious tandem. Then they stop. On the square behind them, now a deep, shining shade of maroon, their visible brush strokes slowly fade as the paint begins to set, and for some inexplicable reason, it’s mesmerizing to watch."
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Sophie Gilbert

BrightestYoungThings - Somewhat Recommended

"... Fans of Rothko know his paintings are deceptively simple. Stare at a Rothko long enough, especially in a room with appropriate light, and you can see tumult in the color. Along the margins of his shapes, the paint seems to vibrate, as if it wants to tell the viewer something urgent. But in Red’s final moment, a neon light embellishes the center of a Rothko replica, and this visual exaggeration violates the way the artist intended us to see his work. Like the play itself, this coda strives for meaning and fails because its methods are so aggressively ham-fisted."
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Alan Zilberman

MD Theatre Guide - Highly Recommended

"...Written by John Logan and directed by Robert Falls, the show centers around painter Mark Rothko and his abstract impressionism approach to art – in particular the paintings he is commissioned to paint for The Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. The struggle of his art’s integrity is the central focus as Rothko treats his assistant like a sounding board for all that is trapped inside his head."
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Amanda Gunther

DCTheatreScene - Highly Recommended

There is nothing more thrilling than watching paint dry in Red, the riveting bio-drama by John Logan about the cerebral abstract expressionist Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and his determined young assistant. The Tony Award-winning play arrives in Washington in a sublimely detailed and acted production directed by the Goodman Theatre’s Robert Falls.
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Jayne Blanchard

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