RED pushes emotional buttons as it portrays a personal story about a dancer’s ordeal with a life changing disability. Written and directed by Liz Lea (London Contemporary Dance School), who also plays the part of the dancer, she wrestles with issues of loss, love and time passing.
Pulling heartstrings, RED has tragedy as its core but this show is anything but a downer. Having used the beat of her feet and a sense of humour, she weaponised herself against her condition.
Lea communicates patently and with a quick and delicate wit about human sensibilities of illness, whilst all along, never stopping to entertain. With a twirl of her tongue, she turns the audience’s discomfort firstly into tittering, then into giggling and finally into lurid laughter. When her heart leaps, Lea’s audience again follows her with all of their endorphins, leaving their stress hormones at the box office.Continue reading LIZ LEA’S RED @ THE RIVERSIDE→
It is 1958. We are inside The Artist’s Studio of Mark Rothko in downtown Bowery, New York.(A bit of background. Russian American Jewish artist Mark Rothko (25/9/1903- 25/02/1970), born Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz, is regarded as one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century). Rothko is working at a frenetic pace, to a deadline, painting a set of murals for his latest commission. The Seagram Corporation have paid him $35,000 for a set of his murals to be hung at New York’s exclusive Four Seasons restaurant. He takes on Ken, a fellow painter, as his assistant.
We soon learn the personality dynamics at play. Rothko loves to dominate, to prove intellectual superiority. Rothko quotes Nietzche, Freud, Jung, Greek tragedy. He tells Ken, ‘there should be tragedy in every brushstroke…and …I’m not here to paint pretty pictures’. He tell Ken that Jackson Pollack was just, ‘a schmuck from Wyoming who could paint’. Rothko comes from the Kafka ‘A Book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us’ School of the Arts.
At first, over-awed by Rothko’s stature and intensity, Ken toes the line. However it’s not long into the play that Ken develops his own voice, and the two clash. Ken accuses the old lion of, ‘living in a hermetically sealed submarine’, that he is tired of his, ‘titanic self absorption’. Where Ken hurts Rothko at the most is when he attacks him for selling his paintings to the Four Seasons restaurant. Ken accuses him of selling out. Rothko denies this and says that his aim is that his paintings will provoke and disturb the restaurant’s upper class clientele.
Logan’s ‘fly on the wall’ drama features a large canvas as the two men continue to trade their opinions on the art world, and life in general. Another heated argument ensues over the pop art phenomena of Andy Warhol and similar artists. Rothko says, ‘Pop Art has banished abstract existentialism’ to which Ken retorts, ‘not every painting has to rip out your guts and show your soul’.
For a two-hander RED is well paced with the playwright always having something happening on stage, as Rothko and Ken prepare frames and in one dynamic scene work together to prime a canvas.
Mark Kilmurry wins good performances from his two actors. The fireworks keep coming between Colin Moody as the fiery artist, again demonstrating he is one of Australia’s leading dramatic actors, and Julliard graduate, Stephen James-King as his strong willed assistant Ken.
Lucilla Smith’s period set of a nineteen fifties New York artist’s studio, with Rothko’s paintings being the centrepiece, works well.
Highly recommended, Mark Kilmurry’s production of American playwright John Logan’s 2010 Tony Award winning play RED opened at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli on Wednesday 12th September and plays until Saturday 6th October, 2012.
(c) David Kary
Tags: Sydney Theatre Reviews- RED, John Logan, Tony Award Winner,Inside The Artist’s Studio, Ensemble Theatre Kirribilli, Mark Rothko, Mark Kilmurry, Lucilla Smith, Colin Moody, Stephen James King, Natalie Boog, Sydney Arts Guide, David Kary
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