Paint it Red! The passionate play that swept Broadway comes to Berkeley Rep, staged by Obie Award-winning director Les Waters. At the height of his fame, Mark Rothko struggles in his studio to finish a major series of murals. The brilliant master wrestles with his new apprentice in a battle of wits over a bucket of paint. John Logan, the Oscar-nominated author of Aviator, Gladiator and Hugo, won Tony and Drama Desk Awards for this feverish 90-minute drama that spans the spectrum of human emotion. From grief and fury to joy and hope, it’s all covered in Red.
“Scintillating…The prickly personality and illuminating insights of David Chandler’s Rothko deliver some pretty rich rewards…Chandler, whose stillness gazing deep into an unseen canvas is both hypnotic and revelatory, is deliciously sharp delivering Rothko’s insights into the use of light in a Caravaggio, color in a Matisse, movement in Picasso or structure in a Michelangelo…[Director Les] Waters grounds the action in the workday world of the artist as laborer—from Anna Oliver’s paint-spattered work clothes to the clutter of tools of the trade on the stocky tables of Louisa Thompson’s set…a beautifully mounted production.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Raw and real…A primer in the volatile life and work of Mark Rothko, this Tony-winning drama about aesthetics, psychology and fate marks the swan song of director Les Waters who will soon decamp from Berkeley Rep to take over the noted Actors Theater of Louisville. Smartly framed by Waters, the play’s finest qualities stem from its ability to capture the unruly nature of the artistic process, the thud of paint smacked across the canvas, the rustling of brushes being cleaned, the deep abyss of the painter’s stare. Dominated by massive light-reflecting orbs (Rothko loathed natural light), empty buckets and encrusted paint splatter, Louisa Thompson’s gorgeous set design captures the ache of a space dedicated to art. The stormy Rothko (David Chandler) saw himself as an oracle and the studio became his altar. Peeking inside the dark corners of the creative soul is a heady proposition and there are moments of great exhilaration here. The first time Rothko strikes a brush against the canvas, the action is so raw and startling, it seems almost like an act of violence. It’s as if he wants to hurt the painting or himself or perhaps both…Logan—a Chicago playwright turned Oscar nominee (Hugo, Gladiator)—means to seduce us with his uncompromising vision of a man consumed by his art, obsessed with the meaning of shapes and hues that most of us merely glance at as we race through the world in a blur.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group