Highly Recommended Art is something to be appreciated by those who view it and each will see it in their own way. How about the artists himself? Why do they opt for the colors they use or even the shapes in more modern art. “Red” by John Logan, now onstage at The Goodman Theatre takes us into the life of Mark Rothko, a celebrated American artist of Russian origin, who came from basic roots and so found himself not liking the upper class snobs in the world that he was forced to live in. His fame brought him into their eyes and while he had the desire for the commercial success of other artists, he knew that with that success he would have to be more involved in the lives of those he hated.
In “Red”, Logan takes us into a turbulant time in the life of Rothko ( played to perfection by Edward Gero). It is 1958. Rothko is at the top of his game and has been hired by The Four Seasons restaurant to do murals for their new dining room. The money is good and will allow him to continue to do the creations that he wants. Logan has brought a young artist into his telling of this story, Ken ( played brilliantly by Patrick Andrews, an actor small in stature, but huge in talent) who will work as his assistant and for Ken, Rothko will be his mentor. While this appears to be a play about art, it is a different canvass that we are exposed to. The play, expertly directed by Robert Falls is about personality and fear. Rothko is concerned about his creations taking over his being. Having the younger artists allows us to watch the mentor see his own struggles and the painful truths in his life that become exposed through their time together.
The entire play takes place in Rothko’s studio ( Todd Rosenthal has put together a very realistic set) and Keith Parham’s lighting is sensational. Richard Woodbury’s original music adds some special meaning to the production, in particular a scene when the two artists paint a canvass together to the spirit of the music itself- a highly emotional scene that ends with both men exhausted and Rothko even lighting a cigarette afterward. There is no program credit for the propmaster in this production, and surely there should be as this is a production that uses more than normal and many of these are integral to the telling of the story.
The tension between these actors is sheer magic and yet we feel that there is also a connection as Rothko sees his youth fading away opening his mind to his fears of what will become of him. How can he create art for those who will not see it as art, but just a backdrop for their dining experience? How could he compete with the fame of a Jackson Pollock or an Andy Warhol? Logan’s somewhat documentry into the life of this artist is 100 minutes of pure artistry itself and Falls paints his picture for the audience with perfect strokes.
“Red” will continue at The Goodman located at 170 N. Dearborn Street through October 30th with performances as follows:
Tuesday, Wednesday,hursday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., matinees are at 2 p.m. on Thursdays,Saturdays and Sundays
Tickets range from $25-$89 and are available at the box office, by phone at 312-443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org