Red reveals internal struggle of renowned artist

Belfry Theatre hosts award-winning play on life of Mark Rothko

Jameson Parker and Oliver Becker paint the stage in Red by John Logan

From the moment the audience enters the Belfry Theatre, the atmosphere is both chaotic and ominous.

Huge canvasses swallow the stage walls, familiar deep red and black rectangles painted with remarkable similarity – at least to the untrained eye – the work of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko.

Drops of paint litter the stage floor leading toward a plywood work table covered in brushes, stained rags and plastic buckets, giving the unmistakable, oil-soaked feel of an artist’s studio.

Set designer Peter Hartwell’s attention to detail is indicative of the quality of Red, the Belfry’s first offering of the fall season on the life of Rothko from playwright John Logan.

With huge screenplays like Gladiator, The Aviator and Hugo under his belt, it’s clear Logan has a gift for storytelling. He took home the 2010 Tony Award for best play for Red.

The opening scene reveals Rothko, played by the impressive Oliver Becker, lost in thought as he stares deeply into an imaginary half-finished creation.

His musings are cut short by the arrival of his new and overtly earnest assistant, Ken (played by Jameson Parker).

The entire play takes place in Rothko’s New York studio in 1958-59, at the height of the artist’s fame, when he was creating a series of paintings for the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan’s Seagram Building.

In a scene that illustrates director Michael Shamata’s enthusiasm for authentic detail, Ken methodically staples a three-metre canvas to a wooden frame before he and Rothko smother it in crimson paint from top to bottom.

Sound designer and renowned local composer Tobin Stokes brings to life Rothko’s dependence on music to inspire the creative process.

The fascination comes from watching Rothko’s attempts to hold onto his revolutionary beliefs while embracing the reality of commercialism and fame.

The dialogue is rich, the actors engaging and not a moment is provided to allow the mind to wander from this satisfying performance.

Red runs until Oct. 14 at the Belfry Theatre and tickets range from $25 to $40. For more information, call 250-385-6815 or visit belfry.bc.ca/red.

Just Posted

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Victoria city council seeks authority to tax empty homes

Council is asking the province for the authority to invoke a vacancy tax

Backyardigans, Max & Ruby stage shows add to Family Day in Sidney

Bodine Hall shows make room for kids to sing, dance, enjoy Family Day weekend

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

VIDEO: Excessive speed on the Malahat captured by dash cam footage

Poster calls driving ‘dangerous, obnoxious and disrespectful’

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Most Read