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

Highlands group invites provincial leaders to a panel opposing local mining application

The public forum begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Highlands Community Hall, 729 Finlayson Arm Rd.

Chinese Culture to light up 2019 Victoria Day Parade

Groups hopes Greater Victorians ‘view the culture, embrace the friendship’

Struggling Victoria adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Uplands Park champion to earn provincial award

B.C. Community Award for Margaret Lidkea coincides with Sunday’s volunteer celebration

Car fire backs up traffic southbound on Highway 1

View Royal Fire Rescue douses fire, no injuries reported

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

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

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Island-born Snowbirds pilot enjoying homecoming in skies over Comox

Logan Reid once stood clinging onto the fence outside the Comox Air… Continue reading

Attack on student in Courtenay ‘way more than bullying’, says mom

A Comox Valley mother said “it was way more than bullying” at… Continue reading

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read