The Arkansas Repertory Theater was kind enough to provide me with tickets to Red so that I could write about my experience. Opinions and applause are all mine.
You know how sometimes you’re at a party, or dinner, or even a meeting, and you get into a conversation that makes your brain buzz because it’s moving so fast – words and ideas and sharp humor flying around in such a magic combination that you can’t quit thinking about it? You have trouble falling asleep that night. You smile again the next day, grateful for the chance to talk about things you really care about with someone else who sees them just as strongly as you do.
That’s the best way I can describe the experience of Red, a play that is based on the life of artist Mark Rothko. It’s 90 minutes of talking fast: arguments and stories and questions and too-sure answers about art and making it and how to be an artist; about life and death and the value of youth and the irrelevance of old age. I was enthralled.
The writing is wonderful, all those words spinning out into the room only to come back around at just the right moment, making you gasp or laugh out loud. Just as impressive is the fact that those words are spoken between just two men – Rothko and his assistant – and so you have to have two very able actors to carry the show. Joseph Graves (Rothko) and Chris Wendleken (Ken) are both excellent, never letting up for a minute. The set, Rothko’s studio, is also fascinating, full of paint and canvases and all sorts of things to work with, fodder for the verbal struggle that is taking place on the stage.
I don’t want to tell you too much more, because it’s just so much fun hearing these two say things to each other. So here’s what I will tell you: if you’re an artist, or love art, or are interested in the creative process, or just love a really well-written, superbly acted stage play, then go see Red. It’s a really unique show, and it’s made even more special by the fact that currently the Arkansas Arts Center is hosting an exhibition of Rothko’s work – so you can see the play and also the paintings, all right here in Little Rock (I can’t wait to visit the exhibition, I’ve loved Rothko’s work since I first saw it about 10 years ago). The Rep and the AAC are making this even easier by giving you an AAC ticket for $5 with a Rep ticket stub from Red, or $5 off your Rep ticket with a stub from the AAC. Three cheers for art, great conversations about art, and discount tickets to boot!
Red runs through Nov.10. You can get tickets here or by clicking The Rep logo.