BWW Reviews: Curious Theatre's RED - and Instant Masterpiece
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by Michael Mulhern
Curious Theatre presents the stirring autobiographical insight into renowned artist Mark Rothko in RED. This winner of six Tony awards, including Best Play will be onstage at Curious now through June 16th. RED, by John Logan is set in the late 1950s as renowned painter Mark Rothko struggles to complete his commissioned Seagram Murals for the Four Seasons in New York City. A scintillating discourse flies between Rothko and his newly hired assistant as they stretch, pull and paint canvas while arguing the nuances of creativity and inspiration, the legacy of artists, and the intersection of art and commerce.
In classic Curious form, this show is a two-person cast (also see their hit shows A Number and One an Average Day). "There's tragedy in every brushstroke" really encompasses the theme of this passionate play about art that covered a two year span of these artists lives. I can absolutely see why this was so rewarded with accolades. This play gave us a glimpse into the humorous intensity of the pain that is art. This odd couple were fascinating to watch and the monologues really transported me back to my Art History classes in college. This exploration in color was a very intellectual play and showed us the tormented, self-centered world of art that had a nice hypocrisy twist in the end. I loved that they made the perspective of the audience as the canvas and I could not take my eyes off this production.
Lawrence Hecht as Mark Rothko and Benjamin Bonenfant as Kent were at the top of their game in this production and I loved that the two of them had such a mentoring kinship. Where Mr. Hecht was intimidating and bitter, Mr. Bonefant showed us a naive eagerness that reminded us that he was a young and hungry student. The fact that Benjamin actually went to school for art showed and he was quite skilled with working and manipulating a canvas. Lawrence gave us a great interpretation of the dark artist that was Mark Rothko and it was a highlight of the season for me. I truly appreciated that both actors didn't overact, which would have been easy to do.
Set Designer, Susan Crabtree really went granola on this set and it was absolutely wonderful. This set was so thoughtful and was so bare and raw and encompassed every corner of the stage. We were instantly transported into Mark Rothko's studio which also gave us an instant connection to the artists himself. One of the most amazing thing was in between the scenes where the painting was highlighted with the lighting dancing off the canvas to music as if reflecting his tortured thoughts. I could have watched that all day and kudos to Lighting Designer, Shannon McKinney and Sound Designer, Will Burns. I must commend the thoughtfulness of director Christy Montour Larson for really grasping the essence of each character and the blocking and choreography of the men actually painting to music was pure genius.
If you have a passion for art - see this show. Simply put, this play is a work of art thanks to genius directing, a wonderful natural set, and two amazing performances! Curious started their 14th season with the recently Tony nominated Clybourne Park and ends another great season on a high note! RED will be painting a picture now until June 16th. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at 303-623-0524 or online at www.curioustheatre.org.